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WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY 
OF ORGANISM 



MACMILLAN AND CO, LIMITFD 

LONDON BOMBAY CALCUTTA MADRAS 
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WHITEHEAD S 
PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 



BY 



DOROTHY M. EMMET 

I.ATK RHSKARCH FELLOW OF SOMBRVILLE COLLEGE, OXFORD 



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED 

ST. MARTIN S STREET, LONDON 

1932 



COPYRIGHT 



PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN 



IN MEMORY OF 

MY FATHER, 
"A FELLOW-WORKER 
WITH THE TRUTH/ 



PREFACE 

THERE is no substitute for the first-hand study 
of a philosopher; and if this book were to be 
looked on as in any way intended as a summary 
or epitome of Professor Whitehead s Philosophy 
of Organism, it had better never have been 
written. It represents simply an attempt on 
the part of one of his students to acknowledge 
something of her debt to his work and his wisdom; 
and to discuss some of the ideas in it which have 
seemed to her of special significance. 

My first reason for daring to venture on this 
is simply my interest in and affection for Professor 
Whitehead and his writings. My second is the 
growing suspicion that there are a number of 
people of philosophical interests who are asking 
for an introduction to the study of his metaphysics, 
especially of Process and Reality. If this book 
should send any back with renewed encouragement 
to re-reading Professor Whitehead s own later 
books, that is the best outcome I should hope 
for from it. 

And here, at the outset, I must make an apology 
and an explanation. Throughout the greater 
part of his life, Professor Whitehead s own work 

vii 



Vlll PREFACE 

has been in pure mathematics; and although his 
later books have contained practically no technical 
mathematical reasoning, or even mathematical 
logic, I am continually conscious that the way in 
which his mind is working is essentially that of 
a pure mathematician. I have the uneasy sus 
picion that however much notions like that of 
Extensive Connection and the Method of Ex 
tensive Abstraction may seem clear, they probably 
connote something quite different to someone 
with a trained understanding of the mathematical 
ideas involved in them. My own knowledge 
of the mathematical side of Professor Whitehead s 
work is confined to a none too confident ac 
quaintance with the philosophical sections at the 
beginning of the Principia Mathematica^ and to 
his Introduction to Mathematics (H.U.L.). From 
these, and from Russell s books, I think I have 
been able to grasp something of the general 
ideas which form the foundations of modern 
mathematics, as far as to be able to distinguish 
between those parts of Professor Whitehead s 
work which call for a more specialised mathe 
matical knowledge on the part of the reader, 
and those which can be comprehensible to the 
ordinary person of philosophical interests, and 
a general idea, but no very detailed knowledge, 
of the foundations of mathematics. Such I take 
to be the situation in which a great many of us who 



PREFACE IX 

wish to learn from Professor Whitehead find 
ourselves; and it is as such and for such that I 
have written. I claim no more than to be trying 
to show how Professor Whitehead s philosophical 
work strikes a student who comes to it from a 
background of literary instead of scientific philo 
sophy. If the experiment fails, and it is not 
for us to understand it, I can only accept the 
rebuke. 

But I have a suspicion that Professor Whitehead 
himself does not think of the ideas contained in 
what he calls his Philosophy of Organism as 
only to be available to a closed circle of mathe 
maticians and logicians. Moreover, the opinions 
of some of these about his Giffbrd Lectures 
seem to suggest that they think that his mathe 
matical genius is losing itself in a welter of 
pseudo-Platonic mysticism. It may be, therefore, 
that there are sides of this later work whose 
defence can fall to some of us whose interests in 
philosophy are necessarily humanist rather than 
mathematical. I am not saying anything against 
the mathematicians and mathematical logicians 
I envy them too deeply for that. But the ad 
venture of rationalism is a many-sided one, and 
happily its pursuit must be co-operative. 

I wish to thank the Commonwealth Fund of 
New York and the Council of Somerville College 
for electing me to research fellowships which 



X PREFACE 

have made it possible to undertake this work. 
My greatest personal obligation is to Professor 
Whitehead himself, for his inspiration and en 
couragement. He very kindly read some papers 
which now form part of the present work, and 
I have gone forward with it with his permission. 
Needless to say, I alone am responsible for any 
misunderstandings of his theories which it may 
contain. Canon Raven and my former teachers, 
the Master of Balliol and Mr. C. R. Morris, 
have read through the whole book in MS., and 
made valuable suggestions. My gratitude to 
them for this is but a small part of what I owe 
their constant friendship. 

D. M. E. 

OXFORD, 

September, 1931. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER 

I. INTRODUCTORY - 

The general purpose of the book. Relation 
between the " flashes of insight " and the general 
ideas of a philosophical scheme such as White- 
head s. The meaning of " rationalism " in 
contemporary philosophy. Speculative meta 
physics, or the solving of detached problems ? 
The dilemma of the modern metaphysician. 
Rival claims of the complexity of the subject- 
matter and the aim towards clarity. 

II. WHITEHEAD S DEFENCE OF RATIONALISM - 9-41 

The need for a constructive metaphysic. The 
Function of Reason. The Practical and the 
Speculative Reason. Requirements of a philo 
sophical scheme. Value of such schemes. 
The methodology of metaphysics. Descriptive 
generalisation. Dangers and limitations of sys 
tematic philosophy. Philosophy " the self-cor 
rection of subjective over-emphasis." White- 
head s method in setting out his categorical 
scheme. Note on his terminology. 

III. SOME CHALLENGES TO " THE SENTIMENT OF 

RATIONALITY " - - 42-68 

Has Whitehead faced the problem set by the 
Critical Philosophy with regard to the possi 
bility of pure metaphysics ? His " Cartesian- 
xi 



Xll CONTENTS 

CHAPTEK 

ism." The order in experience and the order 
in things. A possible interpretation of the 
Categories of the Understanding in the context 
of his Philosophy of Organism. An act of ex 
perience as a construction. Relation of thought 
and reality as primarily a problem of the relation 
of the logical structure of the symbolism con 
structed by Mind to the formal-structure of the 
real. The Platonic tradition of an objective 
Aoyos in things versus the anti-intellectualism of 
Bradley, Bergson and Croce. The problem of 
the application of relational thought to the con 
crete real seen as that of the analysis of factors 
within fact. Rationalism and contemporary life. 
The distrust and the desire for general ideas. 



IV. SOME PRIMARY NOTIONS OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF 

ORGANISM - 69-101 

The Categorical Scheme. The Category of 
the Ultimate. Actual entities and events. The 
concept of Process. The Ontological Principle. 
" Vacuous actuality " and the notion of Existence. 
Subjective aim and " real internal constitution." 
Prehensions. The two ways of understanding 
an actual entity. The concept of Organism. 



V. ARE THE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS? 102-139 

Interpretation of the term " Platonism." The 
search for the forms in the facts. Relativism. 
Permanence and Flux. Objects and events. 
Repetition and periodicity in nature. Eternal 
objects as " forms of definiteness." Actuality 



CONTENTS Xlll 

I AGHS 



a limitation amid alternative possibilities. Meta 
physical status of these relevant possibilities. 
The Primordial Nature of God. Difficulty in 
using the name " God " in this connection. 
Abstractive hierarchies. Subjective and ob 
jective eternal objects. Comparison with some 
discussions in the Sophist. 

VI. THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS - 140-173 

An act of experience as a construction. White- 
head s philosophy " a critique of" pure feeling." 
Does it involve a "pathetic fallacy"? The 
Categorical Obligations. Distinction between 
physical and conceptual feelings. Hybrid feel 
ings. The transmission of feelings. Theory of 
Perception. Causal efficacy and Presentational 
Immediacy. Theory of Propositions, and 
Judgments. " Metaphysical propositions." 

VII. CREATIVITY AND ORDER - - 174-219 

Problem of the formal elements in concrete 
fact. Atomism and organism. Relation of 
atomic actual entities to organic nexus ; and to 
former view of objects and events. Cellular 
theory. Enduring objects ; societies of actual 
entities. Order and novelty. The Extensive 
Continuum. Properties of Extensive Con 
nection. The Method of Extensive Abstrac 
tion. Systematic uniformities as presupposi 
tions of Induction and Measurement. Laws of 
nature. Morphology of evolution in types of 
order. " Living " organisms. The Order of 
Reason. 



XIV CONTENTS 

ClfAPTKR PAGES 

VIII. COSMIC, ETHICAL AND ESTHETIC ORDER IN THE 

"TlMJEUs" AND IN WHITEHEAD s PHILO 
SOPHY - 220-241 

A. E. Taylor s discussions of the analogy between 
Whitehead s cosmology and that of the Tima>us. 
The emergence of a type of order. Creativity 
and the Matrix of Becoming. Relational views 
of Space and Time. Notion of becoming as 
involving organising forms of structure. Inter- 
penetration of the rational. Bearing of concept 
of rational order on ethics and aesthetics. " Fit 
ness " of the rational. Amor Intellectuatts Dei. 

IX. FINAL APPLICATIONS OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF OR 
GANISM IN NATURAL THEOLOGY - 242-273 

The difficulties of natural theology. Is there 
still a place for it ? Religion and metaphysics. 
The possibility of rational religion. Creativity 
and the Primordial Nature of God. Com 
parison with Alexander s idea of Deity ; and 
with the cosmology of the Christian Platonists 
of Alexandria. " Valuation " and " appetition " 
in God s Primordial Nature. The becoming 
of temporal actuality. Objective immortality 
and the loss of subjective immediacy. Fulfil 
ment of temporal actuality in the Consequent 
Nature of God. The conservation of value. 
In tensity of order. Harmony and contrast. The 
problem of evil. Mutual obstructiveness of 
temporal actualities. The Divine Order. 

X. CONCLUSION - 274-282 

INDEX OF PROPER NAMES - - 283-284 

GENERAL INDEX ... 285-289 



CHAPTER I 

INTRODUCTORY 

This picklock Reason is still a-fumbling at the wards, 
bragging to unlock the door of stern Reality. 

The Testament of Beauty. 

A REVIEWER of Whitehead s Gifford Lectures, 
Process and Reality? states the dilemma in which 
a good many of us must have felt ourselves after 
reading them. Either, she says, the thought 
is too profound to be judged by our generation, 
or they are the product of thought which is essen 
tially unclear, but illuminated throughout by 
flashes of penetrating insight. 

If the former alternative be right, all we can hope 
to do is to follow as far as we can, and leave the 
understanding of the rest to the philosophical dis 
cernment of our descendants. If the latter, we can 
at least try to discover the jewels in the mass of 
surrounding clay, and meditate on these u flashes 
of penetrating insight," which even the most 
unsympathetic critic must acknowledge are to 
be found in Whitehead s work. The former 
alternative may be right; but it is not a judgment 
that a mere student of philosophy such as the 

1 Miss Stabbing, in Mind, October, 1930. 



2 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

present writer is competent to make. There 
may be a temptation to many to accept the latter 
alternative. For no present-day philosopher is 
more quoted than Whitehead, and better, known 
by his aphorisms; whereas the relation of his 
aphorisms to the body of his thought is not always 
apparent to those who quote him. 

This book, however, is not committed to accept 
ing either of these opinions as a final verdict. I 
shall try to maintain that there is a very real con 
nection between the general ideas of Whitehead s 
system and the " flashes of insight " ; that the 
meaning of the latter is only to be properly dis 
cerned, without interpreting them in a way which 
he himself would neither mean nor wish, in terms 
of the former; and, on the other hand, that if 
these " flashes of insight," which we say illuminate 
and make significant some part of our experience, 
can be shown to be important applications of 
the general ideas of the system, it adds con 
siderable weight to those ideas. 

A proper grasp of the context of a philosophical 
idea in the system of a philosopher is essential to 
the understanding of its significance. This seems 
an elementary truism, but it is surprising to see 
how often it is neglected, especially by those 
who like to quote, perhaps, the religious opinions 
of a philosopher, and interpret or criticise them 
in the terms and associations of another system 



INTRODUCTORY 3 

of ideas. This is particularly disastrous in dealing 
with the ideas of a philosopher like Whitehead; 
and we shall see the reason when we come to 
discuss his particular view of philosophic method 
and the nature of systematic speculative philo 
sophy. There is a sense, no doubt, in which 
general ideas can be distinguished from the 
parochialism (to use a word of Whitehead s 
own) of their time and setting; and if the history 
of philosophy is to be more than a history 
of philosophers and their peculiar opinions, it 
should be a tracing of the way in which the 
universal aspects of ideas become gradually clari 
fied and distinguished from the mythology and 
particularities of the system of thought in which 
they were born. But in trying to do this without 
an initial understanding of the systems of thought 
we are on dangerous ground. There is also a 
sense in which the system and the penetrating 
idea stand together, even if, fortunately, it need 
not always be true that they must stand and fall 
together. 

This claim (which I shall seek to defend in the 
next two chapters) that the business of metaphysics 
is to create penetrating general ideas which may 
make some part of our experience more significant, 
may be read as a protest against the prevalent 
fashion of making an absolute division of the 
problems of philosophy into those which may 



4 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

be solved with practical certainty by mathe 
matical logic, and those which cannot, and which 
are therefore said to be insoluble, and must be 
left to " mystical feeling. 1 1 

This all or nothing view of the function of 
logic, if taken seriously, would do away entirely 
with the value of philosophy, as it has proved itself 
over and over again, in the gradual clarifying and 
making more significant of any elements whatever 
in the welter of experience upon which we like 
to philosophise. While agreeing with Wittgen 
stein, 2 and the school of logicians he represents, 
that the object of philosophy is essentially eluci 
datory, the logical clarification of ideas, I should 
part company with him when he says that this 
implies that it should limit the thinkable and the 
unthinkable. 3 I shall urge that Whitehead is 
right in saying that there is no such hard-and-fast 
distinction no problems which as such do not 
admit of philosophical treatment. When there- 

1 See chapter vi., " On Scientific Method in Philosophy," 
in Russell s Mysticism and Logic (London, 1918), especially 
pp. no sf. ; and such, I take it, is the outcome of Wittgenstein s 
view of philosophy as an activity and not a subject, reducible 
in the end to " important nonsense." 

2 Tractates Logico-Philosophicus (London, 1922), 4. 112. 

3 4. 114. We may contrast Whitehead s remark, Science 
and the Modern World (Cambridge, 1926), p. 258 : "In an 
intellectual age there can .be no active interest which puts aside 
all hope of a vision of the harmony of truth." 



INTRODUCTORY 5 

fore he leaves the comparative clarity and dis 
tinctness of symbolic logic and natural knowledge 
for the more elusive and vaguer problems of exis 
tence and value, he may not succeed in solving them 
satisfactorily, but at least he has a right to make 
the attempt ; and any of us who have the will and 
obligation to be rational, if only from " the senti 
ment of rationality," may make an attempt to 
follow him. We may also hope that a mind like 
his, trained in the appreciation of rationality, will 
be able to help us to discover some order amid 
the confusion, instead of blaming him too quickly 
for attempting to systematise and rationalise the 
44 irrational." 

In an informal speech at the Seventh Inter 
national Congress of Philosophy, Whitehead sug 
gested that the spirit of modern philosophy, and 
the stage which its speculations have reached, is 
almost exactly that of the Pre-Socratics. Perhaps 
one way in which this may be seen is that, like 
the Ionian cosmologists, we are coming to look 
on these human problems of value and conduct 
as far harder than the problems of " natural 
knowledge." When, therefore, a natural philo 
sopher like Whitehead comes to treat them, with 
a full understanding of the difficulties involved, 
and a knowledge of what clear thinking means 
in the mathematical sciences, we must not expect 
the results to be easily understood. 



6 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

The fault lies not only with the natural 
philosopher, but with the subject-matter. At any 
rate we can come confidently to one opinion that 
the nature of things is not simple, but of a baffling 
complexity. We sometimes hear, for instance from 
a reviewer complaining of his failure to understand 
Process and Reality^ that these things have been 
hid from the wise and prudent and revealed to 
babes. There may be, and surely is, a sense in 
which this can be so, but as a judgment on the 
value of a philosophical work, it too often simply 
hides mental laziness. There is, as William James 
says, a thick and a thin simplicity. The thick 
simplicity can only be achieved by those who 
appreciate the complexity and difficulties of the 
subject-matter, and yet also see that there can, 
nevertheless, be a certain, perhaps we may say, 
moral simplicity in our attitude in trying to 
understand it. This we might describe as an 
attitude of open-minded reasonableness, combined 
with an attempt to arrive at the greatest possible 
economy and clarity of concepts in our attempted 
explanations. So, as Whitehead himself puts 
it, 1 the guiding motto in the life of every natural 
philosopher should be " seek simplicity and 
distrust it." 

The task of anyone who would set out to be 
a speculative metaphysician in these days is 
1 Concept of Nature (Cambridge, 1920), p. 163. 



INTRODUCTORY 7 

certainly stupendous enough. In fact, with a 
view to our increasing appreciation of the com 
plexity of the subject-matter with which he has 
to deal, it is demanded of the modern meta 
physician that he be a kind of superman. He 
must have a wide knowledge of philosophy, 
logic, pure mathematics, and, it would seem, of 
the philosophical side of scientific thought, 
especially of physics, besides the constructive 
genius to be able to create some sort of picture 
of what seems to be the outcome of it all. And 
this at a time when knowledge has become more 
and more highly specialised, so that only the 
specialist understands his own field, and no one 
can, like Aristotle or St. Thomas Aquinas, claim 
a comprehensive knowledge of the whole volume 
of contemporary ideas, and set them out in a 
system which claims to answer all the questions 
which a reasonable man could possibly be expected 
to ask. So it is not surprising to find few who 
still believe in the possibility of constructing 
comprehensive philosophical systems, and many 
even who think that the day of old-fashioned 
speculative metaphysics has gone by. Others 
may say that the concepts of modern philosophical 
and scientific thought are still so tentative and 
provisional that the time has not yet come for 
anyone to try to synthesise them in a metaphysical 
scheme. 



8 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

It therefore means a real break with the spirit 
of most modern philosophy for Whitehead to 
claim that it is the business of the philosopher 
to try to formulate a synoptic metaphysical 
system. We feel in reading him that in this 
way he is much closer to the Greeks and Cartesians, 
perhaps above all to Leibniz, than to most modern 
philosophers (with the obvious exception of 
Professor Alexander), and certainly than to most 
of those of the recent past. 

I shall try to point out some reasons for this 
in the next two chapters, in considering his view of 
philosophic method, and his defence of rationalist 
speculative philosophy, and shall ask how far we 
can hold that his attempt is legitimate. The rest 
of the book will begin to explore how far it is 
successful. 



CHAPTER II 

WHITEHEAD S DEFENCE OF RATIONALISM 

In the immense majority of men, even in civilized countries, 
speculative philosophy has ever been, and must remain, a terra 
incognita, yet all the epoch-making revolutions of the Christian 
world, the revolutions of religion, and with them the civil, social 
and domestic habits of the nations concerned, have coincided 
with the rise and fall of metaphysical systems. COLERIDGE. 

Nothing can be conceived more hard than the heart of a 
thoroughbred metaphysician. It comes nearer to the cold 
malignity of a wicked spirit than to the frailty and passion of a 
man. It is like that of the principle of evil himself, incorporeal, 
pure, unmixed, dephlegmated, defecated evil. BURKE. 

What is it that I employ my metaphysics on ? To perplex 
our clearest notions and living moral instincts ? To extinguish 
the light of love and of conscience, to put out the life of arbitra 
ment, to make myself and others worthless, soulless, Godless ? 
No, to expose the folly and legerdemain of those who have thus 
abused the blessed organ of language, to support all old and 
venerable truths, to support, to kindle, to project, to make the 
reason spread light over our feelings, to make our feelings diffuse 
vital warmth through our reason these are my objects, and 
these my subjects. Is this the metaphysic that bad spirits in 
hell delight in ? COLERIDGE. 

THE preface to Process and Reality states White- 
head s view of the scope and aim of his work. 
Since these statements would by no means be 
generally accepted in fact, as I have said, they 
run directly counter to the spirit of most modern 

9 



ro WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

philosophy it may be worth while to quote them 
in full and to spend some time in discussing them. 

(a) " That the movement of historical and philo 
sophical criticism of detached questions, 
which on the whole has dominated the last 
two centuries, has done its work, and 
requires to be supplemented by a more 
sustained effort of constructive thought. 

(V) " That the true method of philosophical 
construction is to frame a scheme of 
ideas, the best that one can, and unflinch 
ingly to explore the interpretation of ex 
perience in terms of that scheme. 

(c) " All constructive thought ... is dominated 

by some such scheme, unacknowledged 
but no less influential in guiding the 
imagination. The importance of philo 
sophy lies in its sustained effort to make 
such schemes explicit, arid thereby capable 
of criticism and improvement. 

(d) " The final reflection how shallow, puny 

and imperfect are efforts to sound the 
depths in the nature of things. In philo 
sophical discussion the merest hint of 
dogmatic certainty as to finality of state 
ment is an exhibition of folly." 

In this chapter I wish to consider what White- 
head means by a Speculative Philosophy, in the 



WHITEHEAD S DEFENCE OF RATIONALISM 1 1 

broadest sense, in the light of these four reflec 
tions. In the next chapter I shall go on to ask 
whether he has sufficiently taken account of the 
various objections which can be raised against this 
type of philosophy. 

" Speculative Philosophy " is defined 1 as " the 
endeavour to frame a coherent, logical and 
necessary system of general ideas in terms of 
which every element of our experience can be 
interpreted." This sounds an ambitious enough 
task; but before questioning its possibility, we 
must see how he describes it in the succeeding 
paragraphs of Process and Reality^ and, more 
particularly, in The Function of Reason? 1 

In this book he has given us a vigorous defence 
of a rationalistic method in Science and Philo 
sophy. He introduces this by a definition and 
description of what he means by Reason, and 
the part it has played in evolution and civiliza 
tion. His definition of Reason (which we must 
accept provisionally) is "the self-discipline of the 
originative element in life," that is to say, the 
ordering of an urge towards novelty which, as 
we shall see, he says is a " mental pole," possessed 
in some measure by every actuality. The primary 

1 Process and Reality, Pt. I., ch. i., i. 

2 The Function of Reason (Princeton, 1929). This is quite 
the most straightforward, and in many ways the most suggestive 
and delightful of Whitehead s books (cf. the review in M/W, 
October, 1930). 



12 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

function of Reason, in this sense, is simply the 
promotion of life. This is the function of what 
he calls the Practical Reason, understanding this 
in the pragmatic sense, namely as an instrument 
for discovering means to ends imaginatively 
grasped as desirable. This is not necessarily, 
and in fact comparatively rarely, conscious it 
is an originative urge towards a different situation. 
He gives as an example the urge to find means to 
satisfy thirst in the desert, where the natural 
physical tendency is simply towards drought, 
while the counter-tendency is an activity to find 
a means to maintain life. This counter-tendency, 
like Bergson s elan vital, we may call a feeling 
after a means to fuller life. In its higher phases 
it becomes conscious, instrumental intelligence. 1 
He connects Reason in this sense with the story 
of Odysseus Reason symbolised by the cunning 
of the foxes. 2 

But there is the other side of Reason which 
he connects with the name of Plato Reason 
shared not with the foxes, but with the gods 
Reason as seeking not an immediate method 
of action, but some understanding of things. 3 
The history of Reason in this sense is very short 

1 Op. cit., pp. 29-32 ; 7. 

2 This view of the Practical Reason will be further discussed 
when we come to the notion of " mental prehensions." It can 
only be noticed here in passing. 3 Ibid., pp. 31-32. 



WHITEHEAD S DEFENCE OF RATIONALISM 13 

it belongs only to the 6,000 years, perhaps, of 
civilization. Whitehead ascribes the discovery 
of its supreme importance to the Greeks. Its 
general characteristic is its power of transcending 
any immediate and obvious practical aim, and 
so of gaining some synoptic vision of things. 
Its aim is some wider generalisation ; that is to say, 
the discovery of some connection in things which 
will be significant beyond the particularity of 
the immediate instance. Since it is free from 
any direct relevance to a practical end, it can try 
to reach these wider generalisations by the free 
play of imagination. But the free play of imagin 
ation alone, springing from religious and artistic 
inspiration, is like prophecy; it is wild, anarchic, 
and, though it contains perhaps important truths, 
it is without the means of discipline and self- 
criticism. (We may recall Plato s discussion of 
/xcuaa in the Phaedrus^) So Whitehead has 
some hard sayings about prophets, 1 suggesting, 
with quiet irony, that without some method of 
testing, it is perhaps best to stone them in some 
merciful way. This is perhaps natural for one 
who realises as clearly as he does, the importance 
and the precariousness of rationality in what 
we call our civilized life; and how easy it is for 
the natural man who, as he says, emending 
Aristotle, is after all but " an animal intermit- 

1 Of. tit., p. 52. 



14 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

tently liable to rationality " to slip back into 
force and fanaticism, and destroy the subtler and 
more delicate orders built upon Reason. Yet he 
would surely be among the first to agree 

That tis a thing impossible to frame 
Conceptions equal to the soul s desire : 
And the most difficult of tasks to keep 
Heights which the soul is competent to gain. 

It is the paradox that without disciplined Reason, 
no heights can be kept for long ; yet, anti-intellec- 
tualist and even vandal though the prophet often 
is, without him there might be no heights gained. 
Moreover, Whitehead sees in the sporadic inspira 
tions of prophecy the germ of the Speculative 
Reason the imaginative grasp at a possibility 
which transcends existing ways of thought. 

The importance of the Greeks in the history of 
thought lies in the fact that they discovered that 
the Speculative Reason itself could be subjected 
to order Logic, in the broadest sense, is the 
self-discipline of speculative thought. 1 White- 
head here seems to suggest that the Greek formal 
logic was the perfect instrument for this; but no 
doubt all he can mean is that it laid down 
the general lines on which the self-discipline 
of imaginative thought could proceed. This is 
through bringing its speculations into conformity 

1 Op. /., p. 53. 



WHITEHEAD S DEFENCE OF RATIONALISM 1 5 

with the conditions of rational coherence. Since 
these conditions are meant to be a statement of 
the requirements of a speculative scheme, we may 
pause here and spend some time in examining 
them. They are defined as : 

(i.) Conformity to intuitive experience, 
(ii.) Clarity of the prepositional content, 
(iii.) Internal logical consistency, 
(iv.) External logical consistency. 
(v.) Status of a Logical scheme with, 

(a) widespread conformity to experi 
ence, 

(fr) no discordance with experience, 
(c) coherence among its categorical 

notions, 
(<^) methodological consequences. 

It is a little difficult to grasp what he means by 
these conditions, and they do not seem to be al 
together mutually independent. The first should 
mean that there is something fatally wrong with 
philosophical ideas if they fail to find a place for 
what we cannot possibly doubt. An example 
would be Hume s denial of any continuity in the 
self, or any intimate connection between the self 
of the present sensation with the self of the im 
mediate past let us say of half a second ago. If 
our theory is to be in conformity with intuitive 
experience we should be able to give a reason at 



1 6 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

any rate for our feeling of derivation from our 
immediate past (even if it is only to show why 
we are under a persistent illusion). Perhaps we 
may say that it is failure to satisfy this criterion 
which marks all those theories which C. D. Broad 
has described as " silly " theories ; which does 
not mean that they are not very often highly 
ingenious, but that they are theories which we 
cannot possibly hold (any more than could Hume) 
when we are not actually philosophising. Broad 
quotes Solipsism as an example of this kind of 
theory; and I should be inclined to add the sug 
gestion of some of our philosophical scientists that 
we are all nothing but statistical probabilities. 1 

But it is a mistake to think that this criterion, 
or any of the others, is an easy one to apply. 
Intuitive experience there may be; but in saying 
whether any philosophical scheme is or is not 
in conformity with it, we have to pass from in 
tuition to the dubiousness and uncertainty of 
its statement and interpretation. "Accordingly 
our attitude towards an immediate intuition must 
be that of the gladiators, Morituri te salutamus/ 

1 There is, of course, another way of putting the view here 
alluded to which makes it much more plausible, and probably 
right ; namely, to say that the happening of anything anywhere 
and at any time is a statistical probability. But when it does 
happen, it is surely just then that it is not a probability, but a 
" stubborn fact," however difficult, and perhaps impossible it 
is to say what a " fact " may be. 



WHITEHEAD S DEFENCE OF RATIONALISM 17 

as we pass into the limbo where we rely upon the 
uncertain record." 1 

The second criterion clarity of propositional 
content is easy to accept as an ideal, but ex 
tremely hard to attain. Perhaps part of the chief 
value of modern logic lies in its recognising so 
frankly that part of the essential business of 
philosophy is to clarify our ideas and to arrive 
at symbolisms which will enable us to state them 
unambiguously. The result may at first seem 
thin and pedestrian, but unless we value the vague 
ness and mythology of most of our language above 
definiteness and precision, we must own that 
modern logic is doing something very important, 
in so far as philosophy is " an unusually determined 
attempt to think clearly " and to say what we 
mean. 

Thirdly, the scheme must show internal logical 
consistency. This is simply the readily acceptable 
intellectual ideal of coherence; that is to say, of 
the mutual implication of principles which are 
nevertheless independent in the sense that no one 
of them simply overlaps or repeats another, while 
at the same time a sufficient reason for each 

1 Process and Reality, p. 379 (409). (References to Process 
and Reality throughout will quote the page numbers of both 
the Cambridge University Press edition [1929], and of Mac- 
millan s edition [New York, 1929], the latter reference being 
inserted in brackets.) 



1 8 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

principle being what it is is to be found in the rest 
of the scheme as a whole. There are some good 
remarks on coherence in Process and Reality ch. i., 
2. We are told that the requirement of co 
herence is " the great preservative of rationalistic 
sanity "; that is to say, it judges the relevance of 
ideas grasped in moments of imaginative insight, 
which, apart from this discipline, would be simply 
wild and sporadic. Incoherence, on the other 
hand, is "the arbitrary disconnection of first 
principles. 11 For example, we have Descartes 
two kinds of substance. It may seem obvious 
to a common-sense view that there are minds, 
and there are bodies; but there is no sufficient 
reason in the Cartesian system why there should 
be two kinds of substance rather than one. 
A rational scheme, on the other hand, must at least 
be coherent. If it is to be adequate to experience, 
and not merely a system of possible forms of 
relatedness, it may have to satisfy other require 
ments beyond this, but coherent at least it must 
be. For " Faith in reason is the trust that the 
ultimate natures of things lie together in a harmony 
which excludes mere arbitrariness. It is the 
faith that at the base of things we shall not find 
mere arbitrary mystery. 111 

It is more difficult to see what is meant by the 
fourth criterion, of external logical consistency. 

1 Science and the Modern World, p. 26. 



WHITEHEAD S DEFENCE OF RATIONALISM 19 

It is probably meant to be supplementary to the 
third; that is to say, while the latter demands 
coherence among first principles of the scheme, 
the former demands coherence with the further 
propositions which are derived from it, and applied 
in various fields of experience. We are, however, 
explicitly told 1 that it means the comparison of " the 
proposition under the scrutiny " (i.e., a proposi 
tion belonging to the scheme) with " other pro 
positions accepted as true." This, as it stands, 
suggests that we should compare propositions 
derived from our metaphysical scheme with pro 
positions derived from other sources, and that they 
should be consistent. But if the metaphysical 
scheme is as adequate and comprehensive, as 
it should be, it would be a matrix from which all 
possible true propositions ought to be able to be 
derived. There would be no need of other 
sources of propositions. This is obviously an 
impossible ideal, but these criteria should be 
applicable to the ideal scheme. If, on the other 
hand, " external logical consistency " means con 
sistency with the data of experience, it is difficult 
to see wherein it differs from "conformity to 
intuitive experience." It would seem therefore 
that this condition should be understood in the 
sense I have suggested ; or it will be either super 
fluous, or open to the interpretation that the 
1 Function of Reason, p. 54. 



20 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

propositions of one scheme of thought should 
be judged by their consistency with the proposi 
tions of other schemes of thought, which would 
be counter to what has been said 1 as to the proper 
understanding of an idea in its context. Analogies 
drawn between the ideas of one scheme and those 
of another may indeed add more weight to the 
ideas; but they should not surely be brought 
forward as a test of truth. 

The fifth criterion is rather different in kind 
from the others, and seems to duplicate them. It 
seems to be brought in to suggest a way in which 
a logical scheme can be partially and progressively 
verified, when there can be no decisive testing 
by means of the first four criteria. It is evidently 
" a procedure to remedy the difficulty of judging 
individual propositions, by having recourse to a 
system of ideas, whose mutual relevance shall 
lend to each other clarity, and which hang to 
gether so that the verification of some reflects 
upon the verification of the others. Also if 
the system has the character of suggesting 
methodologies of which it is explanatory, it gains 
the character of generating ideas coherent with 
itself and receiving continuous verification." 2 
By a methodology is meant a practical way of 
approach, or method of procedure, in the solu- 

1 Cf. supra, p. 2. 

2 Function of Reason, p. 55. 



WHITEHEAD S DEFENCE OF RATIONALISM 21 

tion of problems. That a scheme of ideas should 
issue in practical applications is an important 
result (even if it is not, as the pragmatists would 
say, the only test, and whole meaning) 1 of its 
truth, since it is a measure of its contact with ob 
served fact. 

But although important advances in civilization 
have been made when the Speculative and the 
methodological, or Practical, Reason have come 
together, Whitehead is never tired of pointing 
out the inestimable value in the history of thought 
of systems of abstract ideas, undertaken primarily 
simply as flights of imaginative speculation, and 
long afterwards found to have important, and 
perhaps quite unforeseen, practical applications. 
As a mathematician he can here speak with 
direct knowledge, because one of the most out 
standing verifications of this principle is the way 
in which the progress of science and technology 

1 For one difficulty of the pragmatic test is to decide how 
long a run we are to give a proposition before saying whether or 
not it works. So, as Whitehead says (Process anil Reality, p. 256 
[275]), "the poor pragmatist remains an intellectual Hamlet, 
perpetually adjourning decision of judgment to some later 
date." Tocqueville summed up a discussion with a friend on 
the Revolution of 1848 in words which we can apply to the 
pragmatist : " Apres avoir beaucoup crie*, nous finimes par en 
appeler tous les deux a Tavenir, juge eclaire et intgre, mais qui 
arrive, helas ! tou jours trop tard " (Souvenirs a" 4 lexis de Tocyue- 
vilte, p. 198 ; quoted by Dicey, Law and Opinion in England, 
p.xxiv). 



22 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

has been made possible through the previous 
elaborations of mathematical systems without 
any obviously direct practical application. 1 For 
instance, the first important use for conic sections 
was found by Kepler after they had been studied 
for their intrinsic interest for 1,800 years. 2 He 
therefore draws two conclusions: (a) that the 
free play of imaginative thought is an ultimate 
element in the good life (he considers that we 
have a strong moral intuition of this witness 
the almost religious demand for freedom of 
thought); (#) that this will in the long run probably 
have important consequences in furthering the 
ends of the Practical Reason, although more 
valuable results are likely to be arrived at when 

1 A biologist has suggested to me that the reason why Biology 
at the present day is a backward science relatively to Physics 
is that its theoretical side is much less developed. It remains 
krgely a mass of unorganised observations and experiments. 
Physics, on the other hand, through its closer association with 
mathematics, can have a highly developed speculative side which 
gradually finds important applications. He also suggested that 
further progress in some problems of Biology was waiting until 
biologists were ready to speculate with greater boldness about 
e.g. different possible types of living organisms. (See also 
J. H. Woodger, Biological Principles [London, 1929], pp. 268- 
272 and passim, for a plea for a philosophical criticism of the 
logical foundations of their own science on the part of biologists, 
together with a readiness to explore other possibilities in inter 
pretation.) 

2 Function of Reason > p. 59. 



WHITEHEAD S DEFENCE OF RATIONALISM 23 

the Speculative Reason can work with a certain 
freedom and detachment than when it is under the 
stress of practical necessity. As he says in one 
of his essays on " The Aims of Education," it 
is less true to say that necessity is the mother 
of invention than that it is the mother of futile 
dodges. 

These different criteria of the logical scheme 
taken together assert that it is the aim of the 
Speculative Reason to arrive at a system of general 
ideas which will be applicable over the whole of 
experience. This test is obviously impossible 
to apply; but the test of any scheme, so far 
as it goes, is whether it is applicable over certain 
items of experience, does not clash with other 
items, and can maintain itself against possible 
future experience. This still seems an impossible 
ideal, and so it is; nevertheless progress in the 
history of thought has come from holding it as an 
operative ideal, regulating the reason, and so 
preserving "the rational sanity of imaginative 
thought." Progress in metaphysics can be de 
fined as " an asymptotic approach to a scheme 
of principles only definable in terms of the ideal 
which they should satisfy." 1 

The difficulty lies not only in the exact formu 
lation of first principles, insuperably difficult 
though this may be. The greater difficulty 
1 Process and Reality, p. 5 (6). 



24 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

arises from the fact that the properties of the 
scheme, as they have been described, are not, 
as the Greeks and Scholastics may have thought, 
easy to apply. The field of application must 
be the whole of experience, and we start from a 
fragmentary experience as given. That is to 
say, the method of procedure is not, as might 
have been expected, deductive. We do not 
start from certain principles which are clear and 
distinct, and go on to deduce a system of thought 
from them, and then see if we can apply it. This 
may be the method of procedure in mathematics, 
but it will not do for metaphysics. This has 
been the mistake philosophy has often made in 
the past to assume (as for instance it was 
assumed in the Cartesian discussions of perception) 
that experience starts from certain elements which 
are clear and distinct and easily recognisable. 
Instead, as Whitehead insists in his discussions 
of perception, what is prior in consciousness is 
not prior in time, and very rarely in importance. 
For experience comes to us, as William James says, 
as " a big buzzing confusion," and the task of 
metaphysics is to try and discover whether there 
are any general characteristics, permanent features, 
in the welter and confusion. 

So Whitehead, though in many respects he is 
employing the methods of Cartesian rationalism, 
is very far from being a dogmatist. For dog- 



WHITEHEAD S DEFENCE OF RATIONALISM 25 

matism holds that the basic elements in ex 
perience are those which are clear and distinct; 
whereas he is maintaining that the basic elements 
are the most elusive. It is a mistake to think 
that even science starts from a few clear and 
distinct notions, and proceeds by elaboration of 
detail. In fact a science can reach a very ad 
vanced stage, and the delimitation of its basic 
notions still be a matter of the utmost difficulty. 
An obvious example would be the enormous 
success and mass of manipulative knowledge 
achieved by modern physics, compared with the 
widespread indecision and difference of opinion 
as to its primary notions. 

When we apply this principle to metaphysics, 
it becomes clear that the formulation of a scheme 
of first principles which will be " the accurate 
expression of the final generalities " will be " the 
goal of discussion and not its origin." 1 Meta 
physics must not be misled by the example of 
mathematics. Its primary method is not de 
duction, but descriptive generalisation. By de 
scriptive generalisation is meant arriving at the 
general ideas which are implicit in our inter 
pretations of experience; making them explicit, 
and bringing them out into the open, putting 
them together, and seeing whether they appear 
consistent and reasonable; in other words, the 

1 Process and Reality, p. 10 (12). 



26 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

discovery of the ultimate assumptions implied in 
all our acting and thinking. If we push this 
process back as far as it will go, we come finally 
to certain assumptions for which no further 
reason outside themselves can be given. If 
these were really ultimate and necessary, their 
precise formulation in a scheme in which their 
mutual implication would be apparent (we here 
recall the ideal of coherence) would be the goal 
of our metaphysical enquiry. This is the meaning 
of the statement at the end of Process and Reality ^ 
i., i, that the " doctrine of necessity in univer 
sality means that there is an essence in the uni 
verse which forbids relationships beyond itself 
as a violation of its rationality. Speculative 
philosophy seeks that essence." This is why, 
as we are further told, 1 " in all philosophic theory 
there is an ultimate which is actual in virtue of 
its accidents." I must leave the fuller discussion 
of what this means, and a difficulty which will be 
apparent in the use of the term " accidents " 
until I come to the notions of " God " and " Creati 
vity." All that is important at present is to 
notice that we must say that in the end meta 
physical speculation will be driven to a first 
principle, or group of first principles for which 
no reason beyond themselves can be given, 
and which will therefore form the " ultimate 

1 Op. /., p. 9 (10). 



WHITEHEAD S DEFENCE OF RATIONALISM 27 

irrationality " on which everything also depends. 1 
The reason why all metaphysical systems break 
down in the end is that they do not push this 
process far enough back; they find their ultimate 
irrationality somewhere short of complete gener 
ality. (The concept of Substance and Accident 
would be an example of this.) 

But, at the same time, the fact that all these 
systems do look for wider generalities, do try to 
push beyond the bounds of merely particular 
experience, and attempt some more compre 
hensive view, means that even if they are never 
final, they all tell us something. For the essence 
of rationalism is generality, so that whenever we 
seek to give a rational explanation, we have said 
something about the nature of things, and so have 
generalised. We start from a particular, frag 
mentary experience, and, in seeking to make it, 
as we say, significant to ourselves, we commit 

1 It might be suggested that this is just a restatement of" the 
Aristotelian view of knowledge as proceeding from first prin 
ciples intuitively grasped by vovs. But the difference is clear 
on reflection ; the first principles grasped by vovs are axiomatic, 
and certain, and the starting-points for the Discursive Reason 
(Aoyos). On the view of philosophic method here described, 
the principles are not certain nor obvious, and are simply the 
furthest we have been able to go in arriving at more general 
ideas. So " Metaphysical categories are not dogmatic statements 
of the obvious ; they are tentative formulations of the ultimate 
generalities" (op. cit., p. 11 [12]). 



28 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

ourselves to generalising, by using concepts 
which connect it with other possible experience. 1 
All explanation is therefore, in Bacon s fine 
phrase, a " looking abroad into universality." 
Philosophical generalisation simply carries this 
one stage further. It starts from some particular 
field of experience just what field would not seem 
to matter; we may say that it can start from any 
thing that is vivid and interesting to us, and 
which we want to understand more fully; it may 
be nature, sense-perception, aesthetics, religion, 
politics, physics, social relationships, history. 
And when anyone goes deeply enough into any 
of these, or into any of the many kinds of ex 
perience which can become a vital and abiding 
interest, philosophy is helped forward. For if 
there is a sincere and profound desire to under 
stand their significance, it must lead to a per 
ception of these particular experiences, as ex 
emplifying principles which have a wider sweep 
of application. 2 The apparent triviality of some 
of the experiences is not the point; the important 
thing is to have gone deeply enough into them 

1 The justification of this is another matter, and it must be 
postponed to Chapter VII. It turns, clearly enough, on our 
view of Induction. All that can be said here is that whatever 
may be the logical justification of this, the use of present ex 
perience to tell us something about experience we have not got 
is what we are forced to do whenever we generalise. 

2 Cf. Science and the Modern World, p. 17. 



WHITEHEAD S DEFENCE OF RATIONALISM 29 

to see the general principle involved. Examples 
from the poets of how " to see a world in a grain 
of sand " are too numerous to quote we can all 
recall them for ourselves. Perhaps most famous 
of them all, we may recall the way in which the 
Ancient Mariner is brought to see the Love of 
God and all His creatures from watching the play 
of water snakes " happy living things." And 
there is a whole philosophy of all things in heaven 
and earth and under the earth drawn out of 
whaling in Melville s Moby Dick. 

"What are the Rights of Man and the 
Liberties of the World but Loose-Fish ? What 
all men s minds and opinions but Loose-Fish ? 
What is the principle of religious belief in them 
but a Loose-Fish ? What to the ostentatious 
smuggling verbalists are the thoughts of thinkers 
but Loose-Fish ? What is the great globe itself 
but a Loose-Fish ? And what are you, reader, 
but a Loose-Fish and a Fast-Fish too ?" 

We must return from this digression to 
Whitehead s view of philosophic generalisation 
but is it a digression after all, when we read that 
by philosophic generalisation is meant " the 
utilization of specific notions applying to a re 
stricted group of facts, for the divination of the 
generic notions which apply to all facts "P 1 The 
attempt at philosophical explanation is, therefore, 

1 Process and Reality, p. 6 (8). 



30 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

"a voyage towards the larger generalities." 1 
These attempts are all illuminating as far as they 
go, as they serve to bring into relief some features 
in our experience. They are an advance towards 
some sort of synoptic vision, but they break down 
when they are applied without qualification 
beyond certain limits. This does not mean that 
they are false; they are only unguardedly stated, 
and only apply within certain limits ; so that they 
are not so much disproved as superseded. It 
should therefore be the aim of anyone who tries 
to formulate a scheme of ideas to show clearly the 
limits within which it is applicable, the point 
where it falls short of wider generality, and where 
it is in itself inadequate and inconsistent. It 
then becomes more possible for those who come 
after to try to correct its deficiencies by a more 
comprehensive scheme. Instead, however, as 
Whitehead points out, the natural tendency of a 
thinker is to make a scheme appear more adequate 
than it is, and perhaps unconsciously hide its 
loose ends; so that the weak arguments in his 
scheme will not be discovered for several gener 
ations. Moreover, he points out the tendency 
of a scheme (such as Aristotle s Logic), which is 
too perfect, within its limits to stultify thought, 
because it comes to be accepted as final. This 
is particularly disastrous when a scheme acquires 

1 Op. at., p. 12 (14). 



WHITEHEAD S DEFENCE OF RATIONALISM 31 

orthodoxy, and appeals to any other authority 
than that of its intrinsic reasonableness. The 
danger of this: the fact that a philosophical 
system can appeal to the longing for stability 
and security, to our natural readiness to treat 
philosophy as a " Quest for Certainty," and so 
even as a way of escape from the storms and stress 
of the contemporary world, makes many feel 
that Whitehead is gravely mistaken in holding 
that the systematic method is the right one in 
metaphysics. 1 But must the dangers of the 
method mean that it is necessarily wrong ? 
Corruptio optimi pessima. The danger lies in 
treating as static and final what is only the tempor 
ary and tentative result reached at any time by the 
Speculative Reason in its never-ending adventure 
towards the discovery of more adequate general 
ideas. And Whitehead maintains again and 
again that the evidence of the history of thought 
goes to show that " the secret of progress is the 
speculative interest in abstract schemes of mor 
phology " ; that " the development of abstract 
theory precedes the understanding of fact." 2 
For better or worse, above all through the em 
bodiment of their ideas in institutions, systems 
of thought have played an incalculable part in the 

1 This objection, I would suggest, is based generally on 
psychological grounds rather than on the philosophical grounds 
examined in the next chapter. 

2 See especially Function of Reason, pp. 58-59. 



32 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

growth of civilization. Nor can it fairly be said 
that Whitehead fails to see their dangers, as well 
as their value. 

" A system of dogmas may be the ark within 
which the Church floats safely down the flood- 
tide of history. But the Church will perish 
unless it opens its windows and lets out the dove 
to search for an olive branch. Sometimes even 
it will do well to disembark on Mount Ararat 
and build a new altar to the divine Spirit, an altar 
neither in Mount Gerizim nor yet at Jerusalem." 1 

" There is a greatness in the lives of those who 
build up religious systems, a greatness in action, 
in idea and in self-subordination, embodied in in 
stance after instance through centuries of growth. 
There is a greatness in the rebels who destroy 
such systems: they are the Titans who storm 
heaven, armed with passionate sincerity." 2 

And the final answer to those who maintain 
that because it is clearly not the business of every 
student of philosophy to have a complete system 
of ideas (the necessary comprehensive knowledge, 
and the capacity for sustained and constructive 
thought will be a very rare thing), the time has 
gone when any philosopher should try, is given 
in the third of the statements quoted at the 
beginning of this chapter. "All constructive 

1 Religion in the Making (Cambridge, 1926), pp. 145-146. 

2 Process and Reality, p. 478 (513). 



WHITEHEAD S DEFENCE OF RATIONALISM 33 

thought ... is dominated by some such scheme, 
unacknowledged, but no less influential in guiding 
the imagination. The importance of philosophy lies 
in its sustained effort to make such schemes explicit, 
and thereby capable of criticism and improvement." 
If, therefore, those who formulate systems of 
ideas can show clearly the limits within which 
they are applicable and the point at which they 
break down, they can all be of value in elucidating 
something. For " a new idea introduces a new 
alternative ; and we are not less indebted to a 
thinker when we adopt the alternative which he 
discarded. Philosophy never reverts to its old 
position after the shock of a great philosopher." 1 
We may recall the words about Bentham in J. S. 
Mill s Essay on Coleridge: 2 "A true thinker can 
only be justly estimated when his thoughts have 
worked their way into minds formed in a different 
school: have been wrought and moulded into 
consistency with all other true and relevant 
thoughts; when the noisy conflict of half-truths, 
angrily denying one another, has subsided and 
ideas which seemed mutually incompatible have 
been found only to require mutual limitations." 

But all systems tend to claim a wider application 
than that to which they are entitled. Within 
:ertain abstract limits, systems like scientific 

1 Op. tit., p. 14 (16). 

2 Dissertations and Discussions, vol. i. 



34 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

mechanism or the materialist conception of history 
are not false (and indeed they bear abundant 
witness at any rate to the fighting power of ab 
stract general ideas) ; but they are often un 
guardedly stated as if they were the whole truth. 
This suggests the Idealist theory of error, as 
expounded, for instance, in Professor Joachim s 
book The Nature of Truth. Error is there the 
claim of an abstract, partial truth to be wholly true. 
I am not convinced that this is the whole story 
about error in judgments (in fact I find myself 
in complete agreement with the greater part of 
Russell s criticism of it in his Philosophical Essays); 
but it very fairly expresses this view of the truth 
and falsity of philosophical systems. 

People seem to have a deep-rooted love of 
generalising their ideas; perhaps from the right 
perception that what is true for one should be 
true for all. But the result is that those who 
live within a certain system of ideas are apt to 
be unable to look beyond it, and so we find an 
over-emphasis and parochialism in the specialised 
departments of thought, for instance in science, 
economics or theology. There is a tendency in 
specialised thought to over-emphasise the import 
ance of its particular general ideas, and to assume 
that they ought to be of universal application. 1 

1 The tragedy this can mean when those ideas are clearly no 
longer adequate, and have lost their appeal to intrinsic reason- 



WHITEHEAD S DEFENCE OF RATIONALISM 35 

This is because conscious thought is essentially 
selective; it picks out certain features in the 
totality of experience and raises them into relief. 
So in every department of thought there is an 
element of subjective over-emphasis. It is the 
business of philosophy to correct this subjectiv 
ity; to restore "the balance of importance dis 
closed in the rational vision." 1 This is what 
Whitehead calls the morality of rationality. 
" Morality of outlook is inseparably conjoined with 
generality of outlook. The antithesis between 
the general good and the individual interest can 
be abolished only when the individual is such 
that its interest is the general good, thus exempli 
fying the loss of the minor intensities in order 
to find them again with finer composition in a 
wider sweep of interest." 2 We have here a con 
nection between the nature of rationality, and 
what we shall see is one of the basic conceptions 
of the Philosophy of Organism. Nor is the idea 
a new one; indeed it is probably as old as philo 
sophy. And it finds another setting in Kant s 
discovery of the mutual implication of the notions 
of rationality, morality, universality and freedom. 

But the problem of metaphysics lies precisely 
in the fact that it is trying to discover general 

ableness, and so bolster themselves up with some kind of author 
ity, is described in Edmund Gosse s Father and Son. 

Process and Reality, p. 20 (23). 2 Ibid. 



i 



36 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

principles which are universally applicable; and, 
as Whitehead says in ch. i., 2., there is nothing 
so difficult as to see what is always there. This 
is because we notice and perceive things by the 
method of difference " the object observed is 
important when present and sometimes is absent" 
But the metaphysical first principles can never 
fail of exemplification, and so we cannot notice 
them by their absence. 1 In other words, they 



1 Cf. Aristotle, Met., A (^2 b 2^). TTWS S av TIS nal 
TO, TO>I/ TravTwv <rrot\la > We cannot know the universal 
elements in all things, because we have no means of defining 
them, or premises from which to start. Aristotle is attacking 
Plato s dialectic, as a science which will deduce the concrete 
nature of reality from certain principles common to all reality. 

See Mr. Ross s note, in his commentary on the Metaphysics (Ox- 
ford, 1924), vol. i., p. 210. The distinction drawn is between 
dialectic, as a science which will deduce the concrete nature of 
reality from the first principles of all things, and metaphysics as 
the study of the general nature of anything which is said to 
" be." The concrete nature of reality can only be got at by 
reflection on the principles peculiar to its various departments, 
and on particular perceptions. 

F. R. Tennant, Philosophical Theology (Cambridge, 1930), 
vol. ii., p. 155, calls attention to the way in which while "the 
potential Aristotle saw that philosophy involves tentative pro 
cedure from the confusedly but better and earlier known to the 
more adequately but kter known, from common sense and 
special sciences to first philosophy, " the actual Aristotle (and? 
we may add, still more his followers) forsook this method for 
unproved speculation, and hence lost centuries of what might 
have been constructive philosophy. 



WHITEHEAD S DEFENCE OF RATIONALISM 37 

are so obvious that we fail to see them. This 
means they are not to be found by direct obser 
vation. They are not essentially unknowable: 
they may be arrived at by a flash of imaginative 
insight; but it is doubtful whether in fact we 
can get beyond u an asymptotic approach to a 
scheme of principles, only definable in terms 
of the ideal which they should satisfy." 1 

But when we have arrived by imagination, 
reflection and criticism at some notion of what 
these general principles may be, then we must 
bring them out into the open, try and see whether 
they form a coherent scheme, and then go back 
and see whether this scheme helps to elucidate 
our experience. Whitehead calls this scheme 
"categorical." He puts out his own categorical 
scheme in Process and Reality, chapter ii.; and the 
rest of the book is concerned with its elucidation 
and application. He is obviously not proceeding 
deductively; that is, he did not first formulate the 
scheme, and then see what followed from it, but 
only came to formulate the scheme as the result of 

1 How this might be conceived is suggested by A. E. Taylor, 
in The Faith of a Moralist (London, 1930), ii., pp. 409-412. 
It is a " rationalisation " which can never finally be completed, 
but which interprets reality by a theory in principle like the 
valuation of a surd, e.g., \/ 2 * This is aAoyoi , but yet we can 
find an unending series of fractions such that the product of any 
term by itself is more nearly equal to 2 than that of any of its 
precursors by itself. 



38 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

the reflections contained in the rest of his work. 
But he here puts out the scheme at the beginning, 
and the reader is faced with the difficulty that while 
the ideas contained in it are practically unintel 
ligible apart from the rest of the book, at the same 
time the book is unintelligible apart from the 
scheme. The only way, therefore, is to take the 
book and scheme together; and after several read 
ings hope that they will throw light on each other. 
I will not say that this is a very satisfactory way 
of writing a philosophy book; and it will perhaps 
not commend itself to very many. But it has 
one great advantage, in that the writer has put 
out his cards on the table at the outset, and has 
given a definite statement of his categorical 
notions to which we can refer. It is no doubt 
a method which comes naturally to a mathe 
matician. He is putting forward his postulates 
without any apology or explanation, and is looking 
to the rest of the book to justify and elucidate 
them. The test therefore will be whether the 
rest of the work, especially where it seems to 
be valuable and illuminating, can be shown to 
be in any direct relation to the principles set out 
in the scheme; and whether these principles do 
really become clear and find their application as 
the book goes on. 

Note on Whitehead s Terminology. A further 
difficulty in understanding the categorical scheme, 



WHITEHEAD S DEFENCE OF RATIONALISM 39 

or indeed any of Whitehead s work, lies in his 
use of words. We noted a short way back, in 
connection with the requirements of a philosophical 
scheme, that clarity of prepositional content is to 
be sought through formulating a symbolism which 
will avoid the ambiguities of ordinary language. 
Whitehead extends this principle to claim that 
the modern philosopher has the right to coin new 
words he when wishes to express a new idea, since 
he holds that many of the old philosophical 
terms are now misleading in their associations. 
Moreover, the vagueness and unanalysed associa 
tions of ordinary language are obviously some 
thing of real value in literature and poetry, but 
misleading in philosophy. It may well be that 
in contrast with the way in which a literary 
language reproduces the living, concrete flow 
of experience, we may feel a certain barbarity 
about the abstractions of the philosopher. For 
" Who can find a language for this difference, 
for this elusiveness ? Or if words are found 
for the outer form, they are the terms of a new 
science; a speech which has never fought under 
a master of writing, never learned the ways of 
an old society. . . . Who can read Whitehead s 
Science and the Modern World without thinking 
of those armies of men with eastern helmets 
and new shaped swords who came through the 
Caucasian passes with Jenghis Khan ? These 



40 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

invaders are here now to settle as well as to over 
throw." 1 Yet Whitehead claims that, in the 
interests of clarity of propositional content, he 
must have considerable freedom in making new 
words to express new shades of meaning without 
ambiguity, even at the cost of initial obscurity. 
We may recall the remark of Berkeley s Philonous, 
which he sets at the beginning of The Principles 
of Natural Knowledge. 2 " I am not for imposing 
any sense on your words: you are at liberty to 
explain them as you please. Only I beseech 
you, make me understand something by them." 

But the result is a certain added difficulty in 
understanding him at first, or indeed second 
reading, since he is apt to have an almost entirely 
new vocabulary of technical words in each book, 
and to plunge us into it with very little in the 
way of definition or explanation. Hence the 
meaning of a good many of his terms not so 
much of his new technical words, but the precise 
meaning he is giving to old words, such as " God," 
" Feeling," " Reason " can only be made clear 
by an understanding of the thought of the whole 
book; while the thought can only be understood 
by means of the terms. The only way, therefore, 
is to notice continually the exact words he is 
using (perhaps to make one s own glossary of 

1 E. L. Woodward, The Twelve-Winded Sky, p. 4. 

2 Cambridge, 1919. 



WHITEHEAD S DEFENCE OF RATIONALISM 41 

them) and then, after several readings, the 
meaning of the thought and of the terms will 
gradually become clear in the light of each other. 
Very often the meaning he is giving to a word 
can be found from its exact etymological sense; 
and it is some of these terms which I feel are 
among his happiest, and which are likely to 
be a real gain to our philosophical vocabulary. 
Examples are: (a) Concrescence, from con- 
crescere y meaning the process of many diversities 
growing together into a new unity, which, at the 
culmination of the process is a fully-developed 
thing, and so concrete (concretum). () Prehension, 
as a general word for the grasping, or taking 
hold of one thing by another, and so connoting 
an active coming together, which the word " rela 
tion," with its suggestions of a static morphology, 
fails to express; while "apprehension" suggests 
consciousness. (<:) Ingression, for the entry of 
a form into the constitution of an actuality, so 
that it becomes an " ingredient " in it. (d) Deci 
sion, in its root sense of a " cutting off," applied to 
an actuality as the definite realising of one, and 
exclusion of other possible alternatives. These 
terms will all need further elucidation as the 
notions they express come up for discussion; and 
other terms of a similar description will be noticed. 



CHAPTER III 

SOME CHALLENGES TO "THE SENTIMENT OF 
RATIONALITY " 

Philosophy, 

shuttling out in the unknown like a hungry spider, 
blindly spinneth her geometric webs, testing 
and systematizing even her own disorders. 

The Testament of Beauty. 

Prospero s island the integration into the everlastingly valid 
frame of things of unaccommodated waifs from alien shores 
is the compendium and symbol of a process of immense signi 
ficance. J. L. LOWES : The Road to Xanadu. 

THE mention of Kant towards the end of the last 
chapter must have suggested a doubt which may 
long before have entered the reader s mind. 
What of all this talk about the Speculative 
Reason; this assertion that there is still a place 
for pure metaphysics, with its ideal of a rational 
scheme ? Has Whitehead fairly faced the prob 
lem set by the Critical Philosophy, the question 
as to whether the necessary logical laws of our 
reason are also the laws of things; the whole 
problem in fact of the relation of thought to 
reality which was set so forcibly by Kant, and 
afterwards by Bradley ? Shall we not be forced 

42 



" THE SENTIMENT OF RATIONALITY " 43 

to agree with a review of Process and Reality 
by John Dewey, and " close the book with the 
feeling that somehow the seventeenth century 
has got the better of the twentieth "? 

The first answer is that there is a sense in which 
Whitehead would acknowledge this himself, since 
he explicitly says that, in the main, " the philo 
sophy of organism is a recurrence to pre-Kantian 
modes of thought." 1 In saying this, he is protest 
ing against what he says has been the effect of the 
Critical Philosophy in driving a wedge between 
science and the speculative reason. The post- 
Kantian Idealist tradition, by emphasising the dis 
tinction between the abstract universal of science 
and the search for the concrete universal in philo 
sophy and history, has turned philosophy into a 
critical reflection on subjective experience. Giving 
up, as the result of Kant s attacks, the attempt 
to find an order in things^ the mind has turned 
in on itself, and sought an order in its own ex 
periences as thinking and willing. 2 Kant showed, 
probably once for all, that in natural knowledge 
we can never get away from sense-perception. 
But his successors in the Idealist school were too 
far removed from the scientific outlook for their 
theories to have much bearing on the specula- 

1 Process and Reality, p. vi. 

2 And some would say that it is being driven from even this 
last stronghold by psychology. 



44 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

tive side of science. In Science and the Modern 
World*- Whitehead traced this divergence of the 
Idealist tradition from science, and the consequent 
contentment of scientists with a materialist cos 
mology, from the Cartesian view of two kinds of 
Substance cogitating mind and extended matter. 
Philosophic Idealism then took charge of cogitat 
ing mind, and science of extended matter. The 
effort to combine these two makes science the 
mere study of phenomena in a phenomenal world, 
of which all we can say in the end is that 
its truths are not very true, and that they throw 
no light upon metaphysics. But the result of 
this is either to leave us with an Unknowable 
Reality (and an incidental difficulty here is that 
philosophers cannot leave it simply unknown, 
but then seem to find themselves called upon to 
make all sorts of statements about it) ; or there is 
recourse to some view of another way of knowing, 
since science tells us nothing whatever about the 
nature of things. So Kant found an escape from 
mere phenomenalism in the requirements of the 
Practical Reason; Eddington finds one in "mysti 



cism." 



The dilemma in which this leaves us has, like 
so many of these things, been put inimitably in 
The Testament of Beauty? 

1 Pp. 193-194, 202. 

2 I., 11. sjo/f. 



" THE SENTIMENT OF RATIONALITY " 4$ 

As a man thru a window into a darken d house 

peering vainly wil see, always and easily, 

the glass surface and his own face mirror d thereon. . . . 

See how they hav made o the window an impermeable wall 

partitioning man off from the rest of nature 

with stronger impertinence than Science can allow. 1 

Man s mind, Nature s entrusted gem, her own mirror 

cannot be isolated from her other works 

by self-abstraction of its unique fecundity 

in the new realm of his transcendent life. 

If science is an intellectual interest of merely 
subjective importance; or if its symbolism bears 
no relation whatever to the structure of that 
which it symbolises, how can it even be " prac 
tical " or convenient ? Whitehead continually 
insists that we must be on our guard against any 
view which reduces science to a mere subjective 
day-dream with a taste of the day-dream for 
publication. For scientific explanation is always 
a generalisation, and he holds that whenever 
we generalise, whether our propositions be true 
or false, we are asserting something about the 
nature of things. If this is so, science, as even 
Wordsworth saw, can become more than a tool 
of the dissecting intellect, for 

taught with patient interest to watch 
The processes of things, and serve the cause 

1 For, as Whitehead says in The Concept of Nature (Cambridge, 
1926), p. 27, this in the end " has transformed the grand question 
of the relations between nature and mind into the petty form of 
the interaction between the human body and mind." 



46 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

Of order and distinctness, not for this 

Shall it forget that its most noble use, 

Its most illustrious province, must be found 

In furnishing clear guidance, a support 

Not treacherous, to the mind s excursive power. 

Whitehead therefore protests against any view 
which rigidly divides categorical knowledge, which 
tells us something of reality, from science, which 
consists in pseudo-concepts, or purely practical 
and manipulative knowledge. He is maintaining 
the old Cartesian point of view, that all " clear 
and distinct " thought tells us something, though 
what may be vastly more difficult to determine 
than Descartes ever dreamt. That is to say, he 
is claiming to follow the Platonic intellectualist 
tradition, that there is a real affinity between the 
Reason in us, and the structure, which is an 
objective Xdyo?, in the nature of things. He is 
holding that the true Apostolic succession in 
metaphysics has been from Plato and Aristotle, 
through a certain part of Christian Theology, 
in so far as it has been a development from Greek 
Philosophy, and through the philosophers from 
Descartes to Hume; that Kantian and Hegelian 
Idealism has been a digression, albeit an extremely 
valuable critical digression, but that the time has 
now come when we should return to the main 
stream. The main characteristics of this stream 
I will suggest to be the following : 



" THE SENTIMENT OF RATIONALITY " 47 

(a) An interest in speculative metaphysics, and 
a belief in its possibility and necessity as an imagi 
native enquiry into the ultimate questions con 
cerning Being and Nature. (In this it will be 
concerned with the questions which arise from 
an attempt to understand the order of the world, 
and the mystery of what Whitehead calls " the 
ideal opposites, Permanence and Flux, the One 
and the Many. 1 ) 

() Its close association with scientific thought, 
resulting from the belief that, on the one hand, 
the advance of scientific knowledge may throw 
light on philosophical problems ; and on the other 
hand, that the construction of a cosmology, a de 
rerum natura^ elucidating the general ideas under 
lying the sciences, is part of the essential work 
of philosophy. 

(c) An interest in mathematics, and in problems 
of order and structure. Allied with this, there is 
a tendency to look for a connection between this 
kind of reasoning, and ethics and aesthetics; to 
find a relation between the appreciation of the 
beauty of the exactness of things, and a moral 
intuition of rightness, rather than to consider 
these branches of experience as sui generis. 

It may be that, in returning to this type of 
thought, Whitehead has insufficiently allowed for 
the difficulties which were put by the Critical 
Philosophy; the question as to what evidence 



48 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

we have that things must conform to the ways in 
which we seek to make them intelligible to us, 
We must now briefly consider what may be said 
in his defence. 

The abiding value of the Kantian philosophy 
lies in the discovery that an act of experience 
is a process of construction. 1 But according to 
Kant, the objective world is constructed by the 
subject experiencing; while in Whitehead s Philo 
sophy of Organism the experiencing subject arises 
out of the world which it feels, and constructs 
its own nature from the way in which it feels it. 
Which way round is most likely to be right ? 

Perhaps the major problem in the Kantian view 
may be put by asking from whence does the know 
ing subject get the categories ? If they anticipate 
all experience, the only possible answer is that 
it is eternally endowed with them. But this 
commits us to a view of the mind as an Athene 
springing ready armed from the head of Zeus; 
and since the a priori is before all experience, 
we cannot even say that it would be the logical 
structure of any developed mind. The fact of 
course is that the notion of a mind as growing 
and constructing itself is foreign to Kant s view 
of noumenal reality. If however we are to take 
seriously the side of his philosophy where he 
describes the mind as a synthesising activity, 

1 Process and Reality, p. 217 (236). 



" THE SENTIMENT OF RATIONALITY " 49 

we may say that the a -priori is the formal scheme 
which it uses to delimit reality, or, in other words, 
to make its experience intelligible. The cate 
gories are then criteria of interpretation for 
veridical experience not the formal element in 
all possible experience, since dreams and illusions 
and unconscious feelings, which do not always 
come to us in terms of the categories, are none the 
less experience. Moreover we might argue that 
the categories are only criteria of veridical experi 
ence so long as they prove themselves adequate to 
be such, and so long as we are prepared to main 
tain them. They are a net in which we try the 
experiment of catching the real; and when the 
real eludes us, we gradually come to amend our 
categories. It is doubtful whether all of Kant s 
categories, for instance that of Substance, could 
any longer be accepted as concepts necessary 
for the possibility of experience. 

The point is that the logical priority of the 
categories, as formal criteria, is entirely compatible 
with a shift in our notion of them from a widening 
of our knowledge. The categories might therefore 
be said to be used by the mind as the most adequate 
criteria of veridical experience it has as yet formed. 1 

1 I have drawn the greater part of this view of the a priori 
from C. I. Lewis s Mindandthe World Order (New York, 1929), 
from which the following quotation is also taken. I am greatly 
indebted to this book. It should perhaps be pointed out that 

4 



50 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

This would depend upon the way in which the 
" given " manifold of experience most readily per 
mits itself to be ordered by these conceptual 
schemes; and therefore we might say that as the 
schemes show themselves more adequate for inter 
preting experience, they are following more closely 
the connections, or " laws " in the structure of 
what is given. So " the determination of reality, 
the classification of phenomena, and the discovery 
of law, all grow up together." This sounds like 
asking Kant to give up his Copernican hypothesis ; 
but this would only follow in so far as, as James 
Ward said, " In claiming that reason (sic) must 
be aut C<esar aut nullus he spoiled a good case 
for a constitutional monarchy." 1 The Copernican 
hypothesis would still stand as the insistence which 
Kant made so forcibly, and probably once for all, on 
there being a subjective as well as an objective 
element in all knowing. For " Beyond such 

by " veridical " is here meant " non-illusory," in the sense of 
" controlled by the real." Kant indeed says at the beginning 
of the Transcendental Deduction (see Analytic of Concepts, 
ch. ii., i., p. 1 24 in Professor Kemp Smith s translation, London, 
1929) that the categories are necessary to show " how subjective 
conditions of thought can have objective validity." " For 
appearances can certainly be given in intuition independent of 
functions of the understanding." But by " objectively valid * 
Kant means falling with the unity of apperception (cf. ibid., 
pp. 144 s$.). This is not synonymous with " veridical " as here 
understood in Lewis s realistic sense. 

1 J. Ward, A Study in Kant (Cambridge, 1922), p. 60. 



"THE SENTIMENT OF RATIONALITY * 51 

principles as those of logic and pure mathematics 
whose permanent stability seems attested, there 
must be further and more particular criteria of 
the real prior to any investigation of nature. Such 
definitions, fundamental principles and criteria 
the mind itself must supply before experience 
can even begin to be intelligible. These represent 
more or less deep-lying attitudes which the human 
mind has taken in the light of its total experience 
up to date. But a newer and wider experience 
may bring about some alteration of these attitudes 
even though by themselves they dictate nothing 
as to the content of experience, and no experience 
can conceivably prove them invalid." 1 Not invalid, 
perhaps, but certainly inadequate, and so they 
will gradually be superseded and abandoned. 
And the test of adequacy, except in the rare 
instance of an intuitive judgment of the exact 
fit of a concept with " given " experience, must, 
it seems, be pragmatic (using the term simply 
to denote a method of testing, and realising that 
even as a test it is tentative and never final). 

If, therefore, we revert to the question as to 
which way round we are to take the Kantian view 
that an act of experience is a construction, it 
looks as though this view of the categories favoured 
the construction as being that of the subject 
from the way in which it tries to feel and know its 
1 C. I. Lewis, op. cit., pp. 265-266. 



52 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

given world, rather than as that of the objective 
world according to laws prescribed by the sub 
ject. The subject s conceptual scheme is not a 
condition of the possibility of experience, but 
the means by which it seeks to delimit and inter 
pret its veridical experience. It arrives at this 
scheme by forming the most adequate general 
ideas it can of the kind of connections which may 
exist in the nature of the " given," and so the way 
in which it may be most amenable to interpre 
tation. Thus we come round to Whitehead s 
view of the nature of a metaphysical scheme, 
as the elucidation of the general ideas necessary 
for classifying and determining what is real. 

This means that, instead of the view of con 
sciousness as prior, and as legislating the prin 
ciples of possible experience, we have to look on 
a mind as arising out of the background of its 
given world, and progressively constructing its 
own concepts according to the kind of connection 
which it finds, or expects to find, in its world, 
which connections it tries to express in symbolic 
form. The property of a symbol, if it is to bear 
any relation to the symbolised has been clearly 
stated by Wittgenstein (and as far as a mere 
amateur in Symbolic Logic can judge, it is the 
most valuable part of his work). It is " ein 
Masstab an die Wirklichkeit angelegt " a scale 
applied to reality and its logical form must 



" THE SENTIMENT OF RATIONALITY " 53 

exhibit a logical articulation in the thing sym 
bolised. 1 "At first glance the proposition, say 
as it stands printed on paper does not seem to be 
a picture of the reality of which it treats. But nor 
does the musical score appear at first sight to be a 
picture of a musical piece ; nor does our phonetic 
spelling seem to be a picture of our spoken 
language. And yet these symbolisms prove to 
be pictures. . . . The gramophone record, the 
musical thought, the score, the waves of sound, 
all stand to one another in that pictorial internal 
relation which holds between language and the 
world. To all of them the logical structure is 
common." (Cf. 4.023: "The proposition con 
structs a world with the help of a logical scaffold 
ing, and therefore one can actually see in the 
proposition all the logical features possessed by 
reality if it is true.") 

We come back, therefore, to the Platonic prin 
ciple that if any rational understanding is to be 
possible, the Xdyos in us must be akin to a Xdyos 
in things. 2 And here it looks as though we must 

1 Tractates, 4.01-4.06. 

2 I would like to suggest that one of the ways in which 
Descartes returned to the Platonic tradition from the Aristotel- 
ianism of the Middle Ages, was in invoking this principle, though 
in a more misleading form. The appeal to God s not being 
a cheat and deceiver, in order to establish the validity of his 
reason, is only not a circular argument if we look on it as the 
assertion that the validity of our reason in telling us anything 



54 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

take our choice. We must either say that no in 
tellectual understanding of the world is possible, 
that reason can tell us nothing whatever about 
the nature of things, and so be frank anti-intel- 
lectualists; or we can make the postulate that 
there is a logical structure in reality, and that 
rationalism is a never-ending adventure in trying 
to approximate more nearly to an adequate sym 
bolic formulation of it. This may simply (to 
quote once more from the passage in Science and 
the Modern Worldf be " faith in reason " as " the 
trust that the ultimate natures of things lie to 
gether in a harmony which excludes mere ar 
bitrariness," " the faith that at the base of things 
we shall not find mere arbitrary mystery." Yet 
if this is an ungrounded faith, a mere clinging 
to the comfortable security afforded by the Senti 
ment of Rationality, it is hard to see why, as is 
undoubtedly the case, the great creative achieve 
ments of civilization, science (even in the sense 
simply of manipulative knowledge), perhaps we 
may say, of all that makes man most characteristi 
cally human, have been built upon it. 

Yet for this intellectual laughter deem it not 

true Wisdom s panoply. The wise wil live by Faith, 

faith in the order of Nature and that her order is good. 2 

about the nature of things, and the existence of an objective 
Reason in things themselves, stand and fall together. 
1 P. 26. 2 Testament of Beauty, I., 11. 561-563. 



" THE SENTIMENT OF RATIONALITY " 55 

But there is a further difficulty in holding that 
there can be any valid correspondence between 
the schematisms of thought and the reality they 
try to symbolise, which, like Kant s difficulties, 
goes deeper than the objections of any lightly held 
anti - intellectualism or romanticism. It is the 
difficulty which was seen and expressed in different 
ways by Bradley, Bergson and Croce. Thought 
is necessarily relational, and it must analyse its 
object in a static morphology of terms and rela 
tions ; whereas reality itself is to be looked upon 
as what Professor J. A. Smith describes as a 
" seamless whole," a living and concrete ex 
perience. So there will necessarily always be a 
misfit between the abstract spatialising intellect 
and the reality it tries to understand. This 
indeed is a challenge to the whole Platonic view 
of a valid relation between thought and reality. 

Bradley s view is based on the argument 
that thought is relational, and what is relational 
is self-contradictory and therefore not true. 1 
Thought he sees must be relational; it cannot 
grasp the concrete unity of anything, or it would 
include feeling and cease to be mere thinking. 
So " the relational form is a compromise on which 
thought stands and which it develops. It is an 
attempt to unite differences which have broken 

1 Appearance and Reality (and edition, London, 1897), ch. 
xv., pp. 171-180; and also ch. iii. 

~ 



56 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

out of the felt totality." But if the differences 
are united as they are in the seamless whole of 
reality, "they would perish and their relation would 
perish with them." They would be absorbed in a 
fuller experience which would be, not thought, 
but feeling. The Real is that which is whole, 
and not in relation; while thought puts asunder 
what reality has joined. To know the Absolute, 
it would be necessary fully to feel the Absolute, 
and then thought, and even knowledge, as it 
involves an otherness of knower and known, 
would be superseded. 

But the insuperable objection to this view is 
that thought, however relational and abstract, 
does tell us something. Or how is it that when 
we are dissatisfied with our perception of the 
real by immediate feeling, we turn away to 
abstract analytical thought, and then come back 
again to a richer and fuller feeling ? An example 
would be the way in which when we hear a piece 
of music after studying the score we really do, 
as we say, hear more and hear it better than 
before. Neither Bradley s view of degrees of 
truth and reality in " mere appearance " (so long 
at any rate as he still takes seriously the adjective 
"mere," and holds to the self-contradictoriness 
of relational thought) ; nor Bergson s view of the 
spatialising intellect as developing in response to 
practical needs, seems adequately to account for 



" THE SENTIMENT OF RATIONALITY " 57 

this. 1 Relational thought could tell us nothing, 
nor even be of practical value, unless its symbolism 
had some kind of relevant reference to distinctions 
in the real. If we maintain that it has some such 
relevance, then we shall say that the reason why 
thought does make our concrete experience 
richer and fuller can only be because the ab 
stractions of thought symbolise articulations in 
the real. The problem then becomes the Platonic 
one; namely, how it is that concrete fact can 
exhibit characters which can be described in 
terms of universals. Concrete fact is not made 
up simply of universals ; this may be allowed, and 
also the corollary that its total nature could be 

1 A. E. Taylor (faith of a Moralist, ii., p. 343) puts well 
the dilemma with which Bergson s view of knowledge leaves us : 
" So long as you think, as Bergson does, on the one hand of an 
actual experience which is sheer qualitative flux and variety, and 
on the other, of a geometrical ready-made framework of sheer 
non-qualitative abidingness, there seems no possible answer to 
the question how such a * matter comes to be forced into the 
strait waistcoat of so inappropriate a * form, except to lay the 
blame on some wilful culfa originatis of the intellect." He 
suggests that Bergson s problem is answered by the theory of 
relativity, showing that it is impossible to locate an experience 
in time without reference to space. So the " geometrising " 
of the intellect consists in the cutting loose of location in time and 
space from each other, when in actual fact they are given to 
gether ; though such separation in thought is necessary for com 
munication. I do not feel certain that Bergson would accept 
this solution, or whether he would not say that the time which is 
wedded to space is simply mathematical, " spatialised time." 



58 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

grasped only in feeling, or in Bergsonian intuition. 
But thought is an analysis of the formal structure 
which concrete fact exhibits in other words 
" the search for the forms in the facts." 

The further implications of what this statement 
means in Whitehead s philosophy must be left 
until we come to consider his claim to be called a 
Platonist. Broadly speaking, it means that he 
holds that certain elements in the structure of 
concrete fact can be formally distinguished. 
(This notion also must await further elucidation 
in Chapter V.) In thinking we analyse the ways 
in which these are related. Science is therefore 
called the analysis of the " factors in fact." The 
clearest statement of this is found in the chapter 
on " The Relatedness of Nature " in The Principle 
of Relativity. 1 A fact is there described as a 
relationship of factors; and awareness as the 
consciousness of fact as involving factors, which 
factors may be prescinded from their background 
of fact, and considered individually as " entities." 
" Entities " in this sense are described here, and 
in The Concept of Nature* as factors considered 
as termini or objectives of thought. " Red," 
" round," u three feet square " would be examples. 
"Thought places before itself bare objectives, 
entities as we call them, which the thinking 
clothes by expressing their mutual relations. 
1 Cambridge, 1922. 2 Pp. 12 s$. 



" THE SENTIMENT OF RATIONALITY " 59 

Sense-awareness discloses fact with factors which 
are the entities for thought. The separate 
distinction of an entity in thought is not a meta 
physical assertion, but a method of procedure 
necessary for the finite expression of individual 
propositions. Apart from entities there could be 
no finite truths : they are the means by which the 
infinitude of irrelevance is kept out of thought." 1 

That is to say, the analysis of a fact in this 
way is never complete; the totality of factors 
in fact is inexhaustible. But by distinguishing 
certain factors, and considering them as entities, 
i.e. as objectives for thought, we can make in 
dividual true and false propositions about them; 
and the possibility of finite truth and falsity in 
these propositions is secured by our meaning in 
discriminating only these factors, and disregarding 
the infinity of others as irrelevant to our purpose. 
Intellectual understanding is the analysis of 
formal elements in this sense in concrete matters 
of fact. Whitehead calls this kind of analysis 
" Co-ordinate Division." 2 

Two further observations may be made with 
regard to the alleged self-contradictoriness of 
relational thought. In the first place, Bradley 
insists that since thought is ideal, it is distinct 
from its object. The object is therefore an Other 
which must necessarily fall outside the all-em- 

1 Concept of Nature, p. 12. 2 Cf. infra, p. 98, 



60 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

bracing Whole which thought seeks to compass; 
and we have here a contradiction. But this is 
only a difficulty so long as we think that the goal 
of truth is to become an all-inclusive individual, 
which is the same as reality. If, instead, we 
accept the situation that thought, as thought, 
must necessarily be other than its object, we shall 
see that the question is really one of the nature 
of symbolism. We then have to ask what should 
be the properties of anything in order for it to be 
used as a symbol of something else P 1 

Secondly there is the suspicion that both 
Bradley, and Kant before him, have been too 
ready to ascribe the contradictions they see in 
pure thought to the nature of thought itself 
rather than to the inadequacy of our concepts, 
and particularly of our mathematical concepts. 
For example, the antinomies formerly found in 
the notion of the Infinite have now been re 
solved by more adequate mathematical definitions. 
Moreover, if we accept the view, which the 
Principia Mathematica set out to prove, that pure 
mathematics is a part of logic, we can no longer 
be bound by Kant s view of it as synthetic a priori 
knowledge. Kant held that mathematics in 
volved an intuition of Space and Time as the 
pure forms of experience. Then alleged con 
tradictions in the notions of Space and Time led 

1 Cf.sufra, p. 52. 



"THE SENTIMENT OF RATIONALITY" 61 

to further antinomies. But the modern logical 
view claims to deduce the underlying notions of 
mathematics from the primitive propositions of 
formal logic. Russell now 1 is prepared to say 
that the whole of pure mathematics is analytic 
(i.e. derived from logic alone), and so tautolo 
gical, in the sense in which Wittgenstein defines 
this word. That is to say, it shows how 
different sets of symbols are different ways of 
saying the same thing, or how one set says part 
of what the other set says. So even if we could 
be certain that the notions of physical Space and 
Time involve contradictions, this would be quite 
irrelevant to the question of whether the pure 
reason must run into antinomies. The two 
questions are only connected so long as it is held 
that mathematics depends upon a pure intuition 
of Space and Time. 2 

1 Analysis of Matter (London, 1927), pp. 170-171. Russell 
has apparently changed his view on this point. Cf. Principles 
of Mathematics (Cambridge, 1903), p. 457, and The Philosophy 
of Leibniz (Cambridge, 1900), pp. 16 sq . But in these latter 
passages " analytic " was used to denote propositions in which 
the predicate is contained in the subject, presupposing the 
subject-predicate form of statement. It was in this sense that 
Kant denied 7 4- 5 = 1 2 to be analytic. Russell now defines ana 
lytic propositions as those which can be deduced from logic alone, 
and therefore as including all propositions of pure mathematics. 

2 See Russell, The Principles of Mathematics, ch. lii., and 
cf. F. P. Ramsey, Foundations of Mathematics (London, 1931), 
p. 3. "The theories of the intuitionists admittedly involve 



62 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

We may now briefly sum up the argument of 
this chapter as follows : 

(a) The problem of the relation of thought and 
reality is seen to centre in the problem of sym 
bolism. Thought must be a symbolic represen 
tation of logical^ forms which correspond to arti 
culations of the real. 

() Our various a priori schematisms are 
progressive attempts to catch the real in some 
kind of conceptual net. 

(c) The fact that the real allows itself to be 
thought about at all, or become in any degree 
intelligible, suggests that though any particular 
logical scheme we may formulate is probably 
very far from being even an approximate repre 
sentation of its actual structure, yet there must be 
some points of resemblance. Otherwise it is hard 
to see how even manipulative knowledge is possible. 

(cT) Therefore important reservations must be 
made in the view that natural science is purely 
manipulative knowledge, and tells us nothing 
whatever of the actual structure of things. 

(e) The primary link between natural science 
and philosophy is to be found in mathematics. 

giving up many of the most fruitful methods of modern analysis, 
for no reason, as it seems to me, except that the methods fail to 
conform to their private prejudices. They do not therefore 
profess to give any foundation for mathematics as we know it, 
but only for a narrower body of truth which has not yet been 
clearly defined." 



" THE SENTIMENT OF RATIONALITY " 63 

Pure mathematics is a branch of logic, which 
seeks to formulate a symbolism in which the logical 
forms of propositions and their implications can 
be expressed unambiguously. In applied mathe 
matics, some of these forms are seen to be ex 
emplified in the physical field. Moreover, if we can 
see that one such formal concept is exemplified in 
an actual occasion, we can know an indefinite num 
ber of other formal concepts are implied in it. 1 

(/) The category of RELATION becomes of fun 
damental importance. Science analyses various 
correlations between certain factors abstracted 
from concrete fact which may be described as the 
formal elements in fact. Metaphysics tries to 
formulate more precisely the essential factors 
in anything which can be said to be, and to 
exhibit their relation to one another. Whitehead s 
Philosophy of Organism is intended to make a 
contribution towards this. 2 

We may conclude therefore that in claiming 
the right to go behind Kant, and attack once 
more the problem of speculative metaphysics, 
there is enough that can be said in Whitehead s 

1 See Science and the Modern World, p. 38. "The key 
to the patterns means this fact : that from a select set of those 
general conditions, exemplified in any one and the same occasion, 
a pattern involving an infinite variety of other such conditions, 
also exemplified in the same occasion, can be developed by the 
pure exercise of abstract logic." 

2 See Process and Reality, p. viii (ix). 



64 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

defence at any rate to make his attempt a legiti 
mate one. And if we can agree broadly with 
his defence of rationalism, and claim that there 
is a real relation between the general ideas of his 
system and some of the flashes of insight which 
everyone would agree are contained in some of 
the propositions which follow from it, we shall 
conclude that a system such as his can have more 
than simply a psychological or aesthetic value. 

We may also reflect that there was no time when 
this kind of disciplined and sustained constructive 
thought was more needed. The Zeitgeist of 
much of modern thought might be described as 
a distrust of general ideas, and a rather pathetic 
hankering after them; a feeling that the general 
ideas which have built up our philosophies, our 
science, our social and religious institutions are 
no longer applicable; and yet that the world is 
too complicated for us to be able to find new and 
more adequate general ideas by which we can 
live. So we turn to " experimentalism " ; or to 
a philosophy of sensitivity to immediate feeling, 
which is, after all, simply a new Epicurean 
ism; or to a Stoic disinterestedness, or rather 
apathy, such as Walter Lippmann describes in 
his Preface to Morals, and which is still more 
negative. 

Of the first, it may be said that there is a true 
and false experimentalism. There is the true 



" THE SENTIMENT OF RATIONALITY " 65 

experimentalism, which refuses to allow us to 
let our abstract ideas become inert, by showing 
how they can be tested and recast, and bear fruit 
in action through the development of creative 
intelligence; 1 and there is the false experimental- 
ism of the person who simply talks about the 
abstract idea of being experimental, and objects 
to other people spending time and interest on 
other abstract ideas. 

Of the new Epicureanism, it can only be said 
that it is no new idea; and that it fails to face the 
problem of the right relation of feeling and 
reason, freedom and discipline, spontaneity and 
self-control, which has been seen by philosophers 
and moral and religious teachers all through the 
ages. It is brilliantly epitomised in Pater s Marius 
the Epicurean, in words which are as applicable 
today as to the time of which he writes. 

" In that age of Marcus Aurelius, so completely 
disabused of the metaphysical ambition to pass 
beyond * the flaming ramparts of the world, 1 but, 
on the other hand, possessed of so vast an ac 
cumulation of intellectual treasure, with so wide 
a view before it over all varieties of what is power 
ful or attractive in man and his works, the thoughts 

1 The fact that John Dewey genuinely lives in this way 
himself, and inspires others to do so, means that however much 
we may want to criticise a good many of his views on philosophy, 
we cannot but recognise that he is one of the great teachers and 
leaders of our time. 

s 



66 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

of Marius did but follow the line taken by the 
majority of educated persons, though to a different 
issue. Pitched to a really high and serious key, 
the precept Be perfect in regard to what is here 
and now: the precept of culture as it is called, 
or of a complete education might at least save 
him from the vulgarity and heaviness of a gener 
ation, certainly of no general fineness of temper, 
though with a material well-being abundant 
enough. Conceded that what is secure in our 
existence is but the sharp apex of the present 
moment between two hypothetical eternities, and 
all that is real in our experience but a series of 
fleeting impressions . . . then he at least, in 
whom those fleeting impressions faces, voices, 
material sunshine were very real and imperious, 
might well set himself to the consideration, how 
such actual moments as they passed might be 
made to yield their utmost, by the most dexterous 
training of capacity. Amid abstract metaphysical 
doubts, as to what might lie one step only beyond 
that experience, reinforcing the deep, original 
materialism or earthliness of human nature itself, 
bound so intimately to the sensuous world, let 
him at least make the most of what was * here and 
now. In the actual dimness of ways from means 
to ends ends in themselves desirable, yet for the 
most part distant and for him, certainly, below 
the visible horizon he would at all events be 



" THE SENTIMENT OF RATIONALITY " 67 

sure that the means, to use the well-worn termin 
ology, should have something of finality about 
them, and themselves partake in a measure of the 
more excellent nature of ends that the means 
should justify the end." 

And with regard to the third attitude the 
Stoic detachment or indifference we can only 
recall the disquieting analogy of the Roman 
Stoics. The evidence here points to the negative 
and sterile character of a philosophy which has 
lost the zest of life, and the feeling of the precious- 
ness of the present, in spite of all its welter and 
confusion; and to the fate of the chaos of the 
present when it is left without any guidance from 
philosophy. It looks as though philosophy be 
comes inert and negative a mere being learned 
in the ideas of others if it fails to discover and 
sympathise with whatever creative forces there 
may be in contemporary life. 

Therefore we should turn with gratitude to 
Whitehead, if for nothing else, for his showing 
us that it is possible to be at the same time both 
a rationalist and a romantic. In the battles of 
romantics and rationalists one is constantly con 
scious, on the one hand, of a vague emotion 
alism, and refusal to face facts ; on the other hand, 
of something negative and over-precious. But the 
real thinker combines the contribution of both. 
He knows, as Hegel did, that " nothing great 



68 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

can be done without passion "; but he refuses to 
slip into the anti-intellectualism of the senti 
mental romantic. His quality of mind can be 
described in Sir Walter Raleigh s words about 
Wordsworth, as that of one " who faced the fact 
and against whom the fact did not prevail. To 
know him is to learn courage; to walk with him is 
to feel the visitings of a larger, purer air, and the 
peace of an unfathomable sky." 

Whitehead s philosophy can hardly be described 
as an arid rationalism when a great part of the 
Philosophy of Organism is (as will be seen) based 
on the appreciation of feeling; and on notions 
drawn from aesthetics. 1 Yet he is none the less 
a rationalist ; but a rationalist who shows us that 
the emotions stirred by the intellectual beauty of 
reason, and indeed the intellectual love of God, 
are real emotions. And he teaches us once more 
that the attitude of the true rationalist is one of 
penetrating sincerity; of speculative boldness; and 
of complete humility before fact and before the 
puny scope of the human mind when it tries " to 
sound the depths in the nature of things." 2 

1 Cf. also Science and the Modem World, p. 281 : "The true 
rationalism must always transcend itself by recurrence to the 
concrete in search of inspiration. A self-satisfied rationalism is 
in effect a form of anti-rationalism. It means an arbitrary halt 
at a particular set of abstractions." 

2 Process and Reality -, p. x ; Concept of Nature, p. 73 ; Prin 
ciples of Natural Knowledge, p. viii. 



CHAPTER IV 

SOME PRIMARY NOTIONS OF THE PHILOSOPHY 
OF ORGANISM 

An organism is the community of the Universe in the service 
of the individual. C. G. STONE, The Social Contract of the 
Universe. 

The great, the sacred law of partaking, the noiseless step of 
continuity . . . Whoso partakes of a thing enjoys his share, 
and conies in contact with the thing and its other partakers. 
But he claims no more. His share in no way negates the thing 
or their share ; nor does it preclude his possession of reserved 
and private powers with which they have nothing to do, and 
which are not all absorbed in the mere function of sharing. Why 
may not the world be a sort of republican banquet of this sort, 
where all the qualities of being respect one another s personal 
sacredness, yet sit at the common table ? WILLIAM JAMES, 
On Some Hegelisms. 

IN this chapter I wish to draw attention to some 
of the dominant notions of the Philosophy of 
Organism. It may therefore be simply regarded 
as a series of notes on Process and Reality^ L, ch. ii., 
the chapter in which Whitehead sets out his 
Categorical Scheme. 

Before proceeding to this, we may note the 
way in which he uses the term " categories." He 
clearly does not mean what Kant means when he 

69 



70 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

speaks of the categories as the moulds into which 
all possible experience is cast; nor what, for in 
stance, Professor Alexander (with whom, in many 
ways, Whitehead has closer affinities with than with 
any other modern philosopher) means, when he 
talks of categories as all-pervasive features of 
Space-Time. He is rather nearer, at any rate 
as regards his Categories of Existence, to the 
Aristotelian use of the word, to express the 
different ways in which things can be, or the 
different kinds into which reality can be classified. 1 
The Categories of Explanation are more puzzling; 
they are expansions of the notion of an entity, 
i.e. really, of the Categories of Existence. As 
Whitehead himself says, there may be an in 
definite number of them, so it is a little difficult 
to see why he should give just twenty-seven, 
and then state that any possible explanation of 
what is meant by being an actual entity should 
come under one of them. Nor are they by any 
means always mutually independent. The point 
of them, however, is that they do serve to expand 
the notion of an actual entity; they are the defi 
nitions by which the discussions and applications 
in the rest of the book must be guided. The 
Categorical Obligations are clearer they are 

1 It is however difficult to See why prehensions, nexus, pro 
positions, multiplicities and contrasts should be described as 
" categories of existence." They are surely rather modes in 
which actual entities and eternal objects can be together. 



SOME PRIMARY NOTIONS 7 1 

conditions to which all possible experience must 
conform. But this does not mean that they are 
legislated by the mind. They are the permanent 
characteristics of actuality; and in this way, come 
near to Alexander s meaning of " categories." 

Besides these more specific categories, White- 
head has a "Category of the Ultimate," which 
differs from the others in its complete generality, 
i.e. it underlies every type of existence whatso 
ever. That is to say, it is the final notion of 
the most complete generality to which, as we saw, 
a metaphysical system must come, and for which 
no further reason or explanation beyond itself 
can be given. Thus it might be said that it 
is the ultimate irrationality which must be ac 
cepted simply as " given W1 and beyond which 
we cannot go. Whitehead holds that it is neces 
sary for every metaphysic to come in the end 
to some ultimate irrationality. But this may 
simply mean that it is the furthest back that it 
has been able to push the process of rational 
explanation; and the trouble is that it has never 
really gone far enough back, so that it finds its 
"Category of the Ultimate " somewhere short of 
complete generality. The example in older meta 
physics is of course the concept of Substance; 

1 For the notion of" givenness " in this sense, cf. A. E. Taylor, 
Plato, the Man and His Work, 3rd edition (London, 1929), 

P- 455- 



72 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

in Alexander s metaphysic it is Space-Time. 
Whitehead defines it as Creativity, by which he 
explains he means the bare general notion of 
the possibility of there being anything at all 
what is involved in the notion of " any " or "the." 
This he finds to involve the notions of " one " 
and of u many " not the more special mathe 
matical notion of the number one, but the bare 
idea of singularity, along with the bare idea 
of disjunctive diversity. This notion that the 
fundamental thing that can be said about the 
universe is that it is One and Many is of course 
a very old one. But note, One and Many, not 
One or Many. The puzzle was set by the 
Greek metaphysicians; yet almost every meta 
physic ends as a pluralism or a monism and 
fails to do justice to the other side. But the 
Philosophy of Organism is another attempt to 
do justice to both. It is an analysis of how " in 
their natures, entities are disjunctively many 
in process of passage into conjunctive unity " ; x 
of how " the universe is at once the multiplicity 
of res ver* and the solidarity of res ver<e" 2 

Creativity, then, is the notion of pure activity 
underlying the nature of things. And the most 

1 Process and Reality, p. 29 (32). 

2 Ibid.y p. 234 (254). For Whitehead s use of the term 
res vera sec also p. viii. He claims to be using it in the 
Cartesian sense, of an individual real fact, with all its attributes 
and accidents about it. 



SOME PRIMARY NOTIONS 73 

general thing that can be said about it is that 
it is the urge towards differentiation and unifica 
tion, i.e. towards the individuation of itself into 
many actualities, which are called its " creatures," 
and towards the growing together of these 
creatures into new unities. Creativity itself is 
simply pure, formless activity; and it is uncharac- 
terised, telling by itself no tale of the creatures 
which may characterise it. As therefore com 
bining both the notions of pure potentiality and 
of the principle of individuation, it answers, it 
seems exactly, to the Aristotelian Primary Matter 



There will be a good deal more to say about 
Creativity, and its characterisation by its own 
creatures, when we come to examine the notion 
of " God." We can only repeat in passing that 
the Philosophy of Organism is an attempt to 
describe the way in which each new characterisa 
tion of creativity exhibits both the unity and the 
plurality of the universe. It is a new creature, 
adding to the disjunctive diversity of the world; 
but by its objectifying of its feelings of the rest 
of the world into its own process of self- 
formation, it is a new unification of the world, 
a new way in which the universe becomes one. 
The process of creation is therefore rhythmic 
(as Empedocles forecast, in his description of 
a primordial Love and Strife) ; and it is the eternal 



74 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

process of the breaking up of the One into the 
Many and the growing together again, in a new 
kind of unity of the Many into One, This 
has a Hegelian ring about it; but, as will be seen, 
with a difference. 

The name, " The Philosophy of Organism," 
has another implication which brings out one 
of the fundamental convictions underlying it. 
This is that it is concerned exclusively with 
"the becoming, the being, and the relatedness 
of actual entities " ; with a relatedness which 
always " has its foundation in the relatedness 
of actualities," and is " wholly concerned with the 
appropriation of the dead by the living." 1 This 
means that it is essentially an attempt to exhibit 
fact as something concrete. It is a protest against 
the tendency in science and philosophy to look 
on abstractions as anything more than abstractions, 
i.e. as capable of existing, though they can be 
thought of, separately in their own right. This 
he calls, in a phrase which has now become famous, 
" The Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness." 2 This 
fallacy has led philosophers to talk of sensation, 
awareness, and so on, as if they were anything 
more than the activities of concrete actualities. 
Philosophy therefore imposes all sorts of difficulties 
on itself by starting from abstract universals, and 

1 Process and Reality, pp. viii (ix). 

2 Science and the Modern World, p. 72. 



SOME PRIMARY NOTIONS 75 

then asking how concrete fact can be built up 
of them; or by starting from an "intuition" 
of individual concrete fact, and then being unable 
to say how it can exemplify universals. Instead 
the problem should be stated as: How can 
concrete fact exhibit characteristics, which can 
be considered as abstract from itself, and described 
in some kind of symbolism ? Therefore, to put 
this in Whitehead s own words, " Philosophy is 
explanatory of abstraction and not of concreteness. 
It is by reason of their instinctive grasp of this 
ultimate truth that, in spite of much association 
with arbitrary fancifulness and atavistic mysticism, 
types of Platonic philosophy retain their abiding 
appeal; they seek the forms in the facts" 1 

That is to say, concrete individual fact achieves 
definiteness, i.e. is characterised, only by exhi 
biting forms which can be exhibited by different 
particulars, at different times. As Whitehead 
puts this, fancifully, in Science and the Modern 
World? a colour " haunts time like a spirit " 
it comes and it goes. The form " red " is no 
reason why there should be this particular red 
thing; yet the definiteness of a fact is due to 
the forms which " participate " in it, while the 
concrete fact is always more than the sum 
of its forms. This notion will be further dis- 

1 Process and Reality, p. 27 (30). 

2 P. 121. 



76 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

cussed in the following chapter on the eternal 
objects. 

We must pass now to three other notions, 
which Whitehead singles out in ch. ii., i, as 
fundamental, and as showing " an endeavour 
to base philosophical thought upon the most 
concrete elements in our experience." These are 
the notions of an " actual entity," a " prehension," 
and the " Ontological Principle." 

An actual entity or an actual occasion is one of 
the final real things of which the universe is made 
up. Without prejudicing the question what these 
final real things are, or what this final real thing 
is, we can say confidently that our fundamental 
intuitions of Nature show it to us as a going-on, 
or happening of something. In physical science 
we are trying to discern interconnections and 
regularities in this " something which is going 
on," or " passage " as it is well called in The Concept 
of Nature; and in metaphysics we are seeking to 
exhibit what we know of its general character. 
If then we say that this which is going on must 
be something, and not merely nonentity, we can 
go on to say that the " laws," or permanent charac 
ters that it exhibits are the result of its being 
what it is. The fundamental question is, therefore, 
what is the nature of the actual entity or actual 
entities in which this " passage " consists ? We 
have just said that our intuition of Nature makes us 



SOME PRIMARY NOTIONS 77 

feel that it is a process something is going on 
we talk of " Time like an ever-rolling stream " 
and so forth. 

oirj Trep <f)v\\G>v 761/67;, roirj Se Kal av&p&v. 
<f>v\\a ra pep T* avcjios xa/jidSis %eei, aXXa 8e 0* 
r^Xe^oaxra tfrvei, eapos S eiriyiyveTai, fopy* 
0)9 dvSpcov yeverj 17 JJLCV <j>vei 9 f) S 



Yet what if this deep, primitive intuition of the 
passage of Nature is an illusion ? What if the 
final real things are permanent, eternal, and 
change and process is simply an apparent unfolding 
of them in time; or the transitoriness of some of 
their merely trivial and unessential qualities ? 
Such on the whole has been the conclusion of most 
of the older philosophies. The final facts are 
then a bundle of attributes and accidents, held 
together by a vinculum substantiale^ itself un 
changeable (or changeable only by a miracle, 
as in the Mass), and in the last resort, like 
Locke s substance, a " something I know not 
what," in which qualities inhere. This of course 
would not be true without reservations of all 
doctrines of substance. Aristotelian and medi 
aeval philosophy showed determined attempts to 
grapple with the problems of becoming and 
individuation. But on the whole it is fair to say 
that the result of this kind of view has been 

1 Iliad* vi., 146 sq. 



78 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

either a monadology, which looks on individual 
substances as absolutely distinct, and self-con 
tained, with the attributes which they support; 
or a monism which, by allowing for internal 
relations and organic interconnection, ends by 
swallowing up the individuals, and leaving them 
only an adjectival existence in the one substance. 
The Philosophy of Organism, on the other 
hand, starts by accepting the intuition of the 
passage of Nature. It therefore sets out to take 
the idea of Process seriously. So Whitehead, 
in common with other modern philosophers, 
especially those who have been influenced by the 
new physics, has called the ultimate facts of 
nature " events " ; and bids us look on nature as 
a complex of events. Beyond events there is to 
be nothing no space and time, no matter, no 
" laws of nature," no material substance like the 
ether in which they can take place. "The 
material called ether is merely the outcome of a 
metaphysical craving. The continuity of nature 
is the continuity of events." 1 Russell aptly re 
marks 2 that the ether seemed to be such a con 
venient and comfortable thing to believe in be 
cause its properties were merely those demanded 
by its functions. " In fact, like a painfully good 
boy, it only did what it was told, and might 

1 Principles of Natural Knowledge, 6. 3. 

2 Analysis of Matter y p. 20. 



SOME PRIMARY NOTIONS 79 

therefore be expected to die young." Whitehead 
says, however, that we might still speak of an 
" ether of events " to express the assumption 
"that something is going on everywhere and 
always." 

But the original, and perhaps most important 
feature of Whitehead s treatment of nature as a 
network of events is his view that the property of 
events is to extend over other events, so that the 
large-scale events are systems of atomic events, 
which are those which, in Process and Reality^ are 
called actual entities, or actual occasions. 1 The 
interconnections between events, including what 
we call spatial and temporal relations, can there 
fore be reduced to types of this fundamental 
relation of "extensive connection." 2 This is an 
extremely important idea; and it will be taken up 
and discussed more fully in Chapter VI. 

Beyond these final atomic events, or actual 
entities, there is therefore nothing. The Philo 
sophy of Organism is concerned solely with " the 
becoming, the being, and the relatedness of 
actual entities." Everything that can be said 
about the universe must be said about an actual 
entity, or group or nexus of actual entities. They 

1 This is clearly pointed out in the review of Process and 
Reality in the Journal of Philosophical Studies, January, 1931. 

2 Cf. Principles of Natural Knowledge, passim, but especially 
1.5; Concept of Nature, pp. 58 sq. ; Process and Reality, Pt. IV., 
The Theory of Extension. 



8o WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

may differ in richness, or degree, of quality; but 
the categorical principles they exemplify must 
be the same. If our metaphysical scheme were 
correct, these would be the principles there 
formulated. God is an actual entity; and so is 
the most trivial puff of existence. 1 Whitehead 
here states summarily his view of the ultimate 
nature of all actual entities; they are "drops of 
experience," that is, events in the process of be 
coming, with their own subjective immediacy. 
This naturally reminds us of Bradley s insistence 
that " to be real is to be indissolubly one thing 
with sentience . . . Being and reality are in 
brief one thing with sentience; they can neither 
be opposed to, not even in the end distinguished 
from it." 2 Whitehead s view does not of course 
necessarily imply that there is in the end a single 
and all-inclusive experience; nor (any more than 
Bradley s) that sentient experience need be con 
scious. But both views are equally a repudiation 
of what he calls " vacuous actuality," that is to say, 
actuality devoid of subjective experience in any 
form; the notion that an "essence," or a mathe 
matical formula, or " law " can have any sort of 
existence apart from concrete fact, which, as 
actual, is always in some measure a process of 
becoming or experiencing. 

1 Process and Reality, p. 24 (28). 

2 Appearance and Reality, p. 146. 



SOME PRIMARY NOTIONS 8 1 

This brings us to what Whitehead calls his 
44 Ontological Principle." Here he is using a 
term in a sense which is etymologically correct, 
but different from its familiar use. The On 
tological Principle is a statement that since 
everything whatsoever that can be called real 
must be an actual entity, or complex of actual 
entities, therefore anything which can be said 
about anything, any reasons, or descriptions, 
must be due to actual entities and their character 
istics. The reason for everything which happens 
must be sought in the nature of actual entities. 
This is a sort of detective story view of the 
universe we have not found out the sufficient 
reason for anything, until we have tracked it down 
to some actual entity or entities. This sounds 
obvious common sense, so it is worth pointing 
out that it is counter to a good deal of modern 
philosophy. 

(a) It is a direct challenge to the doctrine of 
Subsistence of the Critical Realists ; the view that 
essences which do not exist 4C subsist," so that 
they are available for repeated exemplification in 
matters of fact. 1 Whitehead looks on this as 
really a fudge a suggestion that something can 

1 For the connection of this notion of essences with that 
of another " vacuous actuality," as a substratum in which they 
must inhere to become actualised, see an article, " The Concrete 
Universal," by M. B. Foster in Mind, January, 1931, in which 
he argues that " Substance is the nemesis of essence." 

6 



82 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

float out of nothing. Essences, or universals, 
as " forms of definiteness " cannot merely float, 1 
detached from any form of existence. They 
must be grounded somehow in the nature of 
existence, that is to say, of some actual entity. 
How Whitehead conceives this to be we shall 
try to show in the next chapter. 

(^) It is also a challenge to the view of the New 
Realists, who tend to make mind into a " vacuous 
actuality," by describing it as mere apprehension 
the place from which something is observed, 
without this involving any subjective activity on 
the part of the observer. 

(<:) It runs counter to a more subtle tendency 
in modern philosophy, namely that of looking for 
a sufficient reason for a thing in a mathematical 
formula, and thinking that when we are left 
with the formula, we have something ultimate. 
Whitehead on the other hand is protesting that 
there is nothing finally actual about a formula, 
apart from some kind of sentient experience. 
He has here been accused of a British obstinacy 
like that of Lord Kelvin, who, it will be remem 
bered, said he could be content with no piece of 
mathematical reasoning unless he could construct 
a model; as contrasted with the more abstract 
continental thinkers who could be perfectly 

1 Here again, a recollection of Bradley s insistence that there 
are no " floating adjectives " is obvious. 



SOME PRIMARY NOTIONS 83 

content simply with formulae. This accusation 
seems a strange one to make against a pure mathe 
matician; and those who make it must feel that 
he is going back on his earlier view that logical 
constructions are always to be preferred to 
inferred entities. 1 Russell has argued that in 
physics, and also in philosophy, a constructed 
function, which should where possible be ex 
pressed in mathematical symbolism, should be 
sought instead of an actual entity, when we are 
seeking " explanations," which are simply in 
fact correlations of such functions. This is 
applying Occam s razor, " entia non multipli- 
canda praeter necessitatem," to cutting out 
Existence altogether as an ultimate philosophical 
notion. Metaphysics then becomes the science 
of the possible. Whitehead s Philosophy of 
Organism is now throughout an insistence that 
Existence is a fundamental notion of metaphysics, 
since he holds that, though things may exhibit 
qualities which can be described as mathematical 
forms, these forms are only arrived at by ab 
straction, and cannot be real, or, it appears, he 
now holds even possible, apart from existence of 
some kind i.e. actuality invested with some 
form of subjective experience. We may say 
that if this seems to represent a departure from 
earlier views, it is because he is turning from the 

1 Cf. Russell, Mysticism and Logic, pp. 1 5 5 s$ . 



84 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

attitude of the logician to that of the metaphysician. 
Russell has said 1 that as a mathematical logician 
he is not called upon to assert whether, for in 
stance, classes exist as real entities or not. Exist 
ence is not a fundamental logical notion, Le. it 
is not an analytic concept. 2 No logical principle 
can assert existence except under a hypothesis, 
i.e. we cannot have the complete assertion that 
a propositional function <# is sometimes true, 
but can only say that if <f>x is sometimes true, 
arguments satisfying it exist; or that there is a 
term c such that <# is always equivalent to " x is 
r." For instance, " The author of Waverley 
exists " means, 

(/.) " x wrote Waverley " is not always false. 
(//.) " If x and y wrote Waverley, x and y are 
identical " is always true. 

When however we pass from logic to meta 
physics, Whitehead s Ontological Principle claims 
that we cannot be content with this merely 

1 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy (London, 1919), 
pp. 183-184. 

2 The logical meaning of " existence " is defined in Princifia 
Mathematical 2nd edition (Cambridge, 1925), vol. i., 14.02 
(p. 174) ; and again by Russell, Introduction to Mathematical 
Philosophy > pp. 164, 177-179. It is said that it can only be 
significantly asserted of descriptions, not of names (i.e. something 
immediately given). What we usually consider as names, such 
as Homer or Scott, are seen on analysis to be really descriptions. 



SOME PRIMARY NOTIONS 85 

hypothetical assertion ; or rather that metaphysics 
must make the final assumption that " something 
given exists." But as far as logic and pure 
mathematics go, he would allow that the existence 
of real entities corresponding to their conventional 
definitions may remain purely hypothetical. Yet 
even when he wrote his Treatise on Universal 
Algebra^ he argued that for a mathematical 
science of any importance to be founded on 
conventional definitions "the entities created by 
them must have properties which bear some 
affinity to the properties of existing things." 1 
The full significance of the Ontological Prin- 

1 A Treatise on Universal Algebra (Cambridge, 1898), pp. vi, 
vii. The whole paragraph from which this sentence is taken is 
worth quoting in connection with the distinction under dis 
cussion. " Mathematical reasoning is deductive in the sense 
that it is based upon definitions which, as far as the validity of 
the reasoning is concerned (apart from any existential import), 
need only the test of self-consistency. Thus no external veri 
fication of definitions is required in mathematics as long as it is 
considered merely as mathematics. . . . Mathematical defini 
tions either possess an existential import or are conventional. A 
mathematical definition with an existential import is the result 
of an act of pure abstraction. Such definitions are the starting 
points of applied mathematical sciences. ... In order that 
a mathematical science of any importance may be founded upon 
conventional definitions the entities created by them must have 
properties which bear some affinity to the properties of existing 
things. . . . The existential import of a mathematical defini 
tion attaches to it, if at all, qua mixed mathematics : qua pure 
mathematics, mathematical definitions must be conventional." 



86 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

ciple comes out when we consider what meaning 
we are to ascribe to the " laws of nature." This 
will be taken up in Chapter VI L, in connection 
with the Concept of Order. The kind of view we 
are to expect is summarised in the i8th Category 
of Explanation, which is really a statement of 
the Ontological Principle. Any " conditions " 
to which the process of becoming, of any actual 
entity conforms are determined either by its own 
" real internal constitution," or by that of other 
actual entities in its world. Thus the conditions 
known as the laws of nature are not mechanical 
or logical laws considered as abstractions. They 
are descriptions of the characters of the " real 
internal constitutions " of actual entities of the 
actual entity called " God," or of wide societies 
of other actual entities. Whitehead quotes the 
passage from Locke (Essay, III., iii., 15) from 
which the phrase " real internal constitution " is 
drawn. It is one of those inspired phrases with 
which Locke has enriched philosophy. The 
" real essence " of a thing, is here suggested to be 
synonymous with its constitution or structure. 
Its use in the Philosophy of Organism may also 
be compared with the Aristotelian doctrine of the 
form as the organisation of a certain structure 
to serve a certain end. The 2jrd Category of 
Explanation means that the structure of an actual 
entity is the way in which it organises itself in 



SOME PRIMARY NOTIONS 87 

order to become itself. 1 This is elucidated 
further by the notion of the " Subjective Aim " 
(to which we shall return presently). 

We come next to the notion of a prehension. 
This is a happy term, since it expresses the re 
lation of an actual entity to other actual entities 
in a word which involves neither conscious aware 
ness (as would apprehension), nor a merely static 
and mechanical link. " Prehension " means the 
grasping by one actual entity of some aspect or 
part of other actual entities, and appropriating 
them in the formation of its own nature. 2 How 
this is to be conceived will be seen further in 
Chapter VI., when we come to the Theory of 
Feelings. It must be sufficient here just to note 
this general meaning of "prehension," and to 
refer the reader to Science and the Modern World 
(chapter iv.) for a full and clear statement of it. 
Actual entities are there described as " prehensive 
occasions," that is to say, events or concrete 
facts of becoming, which arise out of their inter 
relations with other events throughout nature. 
A "thing," therefore, is, broadly speaking, a 

1 Cf. ]. S. Haldane, The Sciences and Philosophy (London, 
1929), pp. 326 sq ., where structure is described as the expression 
of a co-ordinated persistence of activity. 

2 Or, in the language of Science and the Modern World 
(pp. 98 sy.), " a unification of perspectives from a standpoint 
here." 



&8 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

creative synthesis of its relations to other events, 
or rather a centre of experiencing (feeling) which 
is characterised by the way in which it feels 
other events. Each actual entity is a new fact, 
because it is a new centre of experience, or act 
of feeling; but it is what it is also because of the 
nature of other events, which it feels. This, it 
will be foreseen, is the line along which the 
Philosophy of Organism will try to combine the 
notions of atomism and relativity; or pluralism and 
the view of nature as an organic unity. Nature 
is to be looked on as an interwoven network of 
events, every event, by being what it is, con 
ditioning all the others. We may refer to a 
statement of this, as a general statement of the 
" principle of relativity " in the 4th Category of 
Explanation. It is there said that " it belongs to 
the nature of a being that it is a potential for 
every becoming." This recalls the definition of 
Being in Sophist 247* as the capacity of acting 
or being acted upon. That is to say that every 
thing either does or may enter into the being of 
everything else; you cannot get behind the in 
fluence of things upon each other. So you 
cannot abstract an entity from its context of the 
whole world. 

But at the same time this again avoids turning 
into the extreme Monism of Hegelian types of 
organic philosophy by taking seriously the idea 



SOME PRIMARY NOTIONS 89 

of Process. 1 In Hegelian organic philosophy 
the notion of universal internal relation is taken 
to mean that the One becomes only apparently 
Many. Whitehead s Philosophy of Organism, 
on the other hand, describes how the Many arise 
atomically, as new events, but are characterised 
by the way in which they feel all the rest. So 
each entity forms a new and unique synthesis of its 
relations to the whole of the rest of the world, so 
that it becomes the whole seen from a new centre. 
We may recall Leibniz monad mirroring the 
whole universe from its point of view. But we 
have here a process of an active growing out, 
instead of simply reflecting or perceiving, of the 
rest of its world. Actual entities arise out of 
their prehensions of each other; this secures the 
solidarity of the order of nature. But they have 
also their private and unique side, since each 
organises its prehensions of the rest of the world 
into the forming of its own " real internal con 
stitution " in its peculiar way. We can here see 
clearly the distinction between this and Bradley s 
view of experience, to which Whitehead never 
theless acknowledges a considerable debt. 2 They 
agree in making experience or sentience funda 
mental. But whereas Bradley speaks of experi- 

1 " Nature," he says (Science and the Modem World, p. 104), 
is " the locus of organisms in process of development." 

2 Process and Reality, p. vii (viii). 



90 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

ence as essentially one and all-inclusive, and 
only apparently differentiated into many, White- 
head looks on each act of feeling as a new act, 
and therefore each new way of experiencing the 
world as adding a new experience to it. 1 

Hence the importance of what he variously 
calls the final causation or Subjective Aim of an 
actual entity; and why he repeatedly says that no 
pluralistic philosophy can be made to work apart 
from the notion of final causation. He uses this 
not in the Aristotelian sense of a fixed end de 
termining a thing s growth, but rather to describe 
what has been called an " end in view," i.e. a 
teleology immanent in the actual occasion, which 
organises the data presented to it by the other 
occasions, which constitute the rest of its world, in 
the accomplishing of its own process of self-for 
mation. So he often speaks of an actual occasion as 
a "concrescence," that is, a growing together of 
many things into a new unity. 2 Professor Lloyd 
Morgan, in a paper called "Subjective Aim in 
Whitehead s Philosophy," 3 has taken exception to 
the language Whitehead is using here. He pro 
tests against his application of terms such as " sub 
jective aim," " satisfaction," " mental and physical 

1 Ibid., p. 234 (254). 

2 Cf. Process and Reality, p. 56 (65), where it is stated that 
the essence of an actual entity consists solely in the fact that it 
is a prehending thing. 

3 Journal of Philosophical Studies, July, 1931. 



SOME PRIMARY NOTIONS 9! 

prehensions " to "sub-living organisms," without 
having said that they are to be divested of all their 
usual psychological meaning. Whitehead has, how 
ever, certainly said often enough that these terms 
must not be understood as necessarily implying 
conscious behaviour. But the real crux in justify 
ing his use of them lies in whether Professor Lloyd 
Morgan is right in maintaining that " Teleo- 
logical relatedness is a very late outcome of a 
long process of actual concrescence " ; or whether 
these terms describe something to be found in 
some measure all down the scale of existence. 
We may recall the remarkable passage from 
Bacon, quoted in Science and the Modern World 
(p. 58): " It is certain that all bodies whatsoever, 
though they have no sense, yet they have per 
ception; for when one body is applied to another, 
there is a kind of election to embrace that which 
is agreeable, and to exclude or expel that which is 
ingrate; and whether the body be alterant or 
altered, evermore a perception precedeth oper 
ation; for else all bodies would be alike one to 
another." (/c.r.X.) 

On the alternative view, it is necessary to draw 
a line between mechanical and organic nature, 
and this is becoming increasingly difficult. An 
independent support for Whitehead s view is 
found in Professor J. S. Haldane s Gifford Lectures 1 
1 The Sciences and Philosophy. 



92 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

where he argues that neither mechanism nor 
vitalism is any longer an adequate theory; that we 
find everywhere co-ordinated activity. Biologists 
are certainly recognising that the organisation of 
structure is the central theoretical problem of 
their science; 1 but probably few (and I doubt 
whether Professor Haldane would be one of them) 
would yet go so far as Whitehead in saying that 
" Biology is the study of the larger organisms, 
whereas Physics is the study of the smaller or 
ganisms." 2 We can, however, only note here 
that Whitehead is certainly committing himself 
to the view that teleological structure, in the 
sense of co-ordinated persistence of activity, is 
fundamental in every kind of actuality; and 
recognise that, if the language in which he de 
scribes this seems strange and anthropomorphic, 
yet modern philosophers still seem fairly divided 
on whether or no " unconscious purpose " is 
really a contradiction in terms. 3 He therefore 

1 Cf. J. H. Woodger, Biological Principles, Pt. II., ch. iii., 
especially pp. 174 s$. 

2 Science and the Modern World, p. 145. Contrast Haldane, 
The Sciences and Philosophy, p. 326. 

3 Woodger (op. cit., p. 432) makes a distinction between the 
word " purpose," which he restricts to conscious human purpose, 
and the general term " teleology," for which he quotes the 
following definition by L. T. Hobhouse : (i) A process in time 
with some definite result ; (2) an element of value in the result ; 
(3) this element to be a determining factor in the process by 
which it is brought about. 



SOME PRIMARY NOTIONS 93 

calls every type of relation between actualities a 
prehension of some kind. This holds of the 
types of relation known as perception, or aware 
ness, as well as those more naturally described as 
feeling. It should be noted that this theory of 
feeling does not necessarily demand contiguity 
of actual entities in space and time. It simply 
expresses the general assumption of the Philo 
sophy of Organism that one actual entity affects, 
and so enters into the being, or " objectifies " 
itself in another. In fact it will be seen that space 
and time are among the most systematic rela 
tions between actual entities. The evidence from 
physical science at present suggests that physical 
prehensions are negligible except for contiguous, 
or mediately contiguous occasions ; but " action 
at a distance " is still even here an open question ; 
and in the case of mental prehensions there would 
seem to be some support for its possibility in the 
evidences for telepathy. 1 By the " objectification " 
of one entity in another is meant its contribution to 
the process of the becoming of another which feels 
it, 2 Since an actual entity arises by objectifying as 
pects of other actual entities in its own nature, it has 
an immediate feeling of every part of its own sub 
jective experience as involving other actual entities. 
Every prehension has therefore what is here 

1 Cf. Process and Reality, p. 436 (469). 

2 Category of Explanation xxiv. 



94 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

called a " vector " character ; that is to say it shows 
the total experience as involving at least two terms ; 
importing the term " vector," from mathematical 
physics where it means a directed magnitude, in 
volving determinate direction from one term to 
another e.g. the origin O to P. 



FIG. i. 

Hence, as will be seen more clearly in the 
discussion of Perception, feeling of an external 
world as causally affecting us is prior to con 
scious awareness of it as an object of perception. 
Moreover the emotion in which the subject s 
drive towards its own self-formation consists is 
felt as derived from objects and directed towards 
them. Thus the subject-object relation is under 
stood in a wider and more primitive sense than 
when it is restricted to the relations of knowing 
and perceiving. Every actual entity emerges 
from the background of the world which it feels, 
and its own nature might be described as the way 
in which it organises its perspectives of the rest of 
the world. 1 These ways in which actual entities 
1 There is an interesting analysis of this with particular 
regard to the theory of perception, and of mind as arising from 



SOME PRIMARY NOTIONS 95 

unify their prehensions in their process of self- 
formation are called subjective forms. Some of the 
kinds of subjective form are enumeratedin Category 
of Explanation xiii., as emotions, valuations, pur 
poses, adversions, aversions, consciousness. 

As the intensity of the subjective experience of 
an actual entity grows, it becomes highly selective 
of the totality of the world out of which it arises. 
This is because the notions of prehension and of 
subjective form are complementary. Each actu 
ality prehends in some form the whole of its world; 
but the way in which it prehends, and hence the 
degree of emphasis or negligible importance of 
its prehension of another entity will depend on its 
own subjective form. We thus see (a) that all 
prehension involves abstraction, since it is the 
raising into relief of some aspects of the thing 
prehended and the ignoring of others; and (fr) that 
what aspects of one entity will be prehended 
by another will depend on their " relevance " to 
its subjective form. So though every entity can 
potentially enter into the concrescence of every 
other, the mode in which it actually enters is con 
ditioned by the subjective form of the other. 1 



the organising of perspectives of the rest of the world in a paper by 
Professor G. H. Mead of the University of Chicago in the Pro 
ceedings of the 6th International Congress of Philosophy. See also 
Science and the Modern World, pp. 92 sq . 
1 Category of Explanation vi. 



96 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

This notion of " relevance " is an extremely im 
portant one for the Philosophy of Organism. We 
shall notice it again in connection with the eter 
nal objects. By using it to show how an actual 
entity raises into relief certain of its prehen 
sions, and dismisses the contribution of others 
to its subjective aim as trivial or negligible or 
incompatible, it will attempt to combine a view of 
organic interconnection with a view of the es 
sential and unessential relations of an actual 
entity, and so defend the possibility of finite true 
propositions about it. We should also note here 
the distinction between positive and negative pre 
hensions. 1 A positive prehension is a " feeling " 
an admission by the actual entity of some 
element of others as affecting its own process of 
becoming. All other actual entities are prehended 
positively in some measure, though in infinitely 
varying degrees of emphasis. A negative pre 
hension is said to eliminate from feeling. It is a 
rejected alternative a dismissal by an actual 
entity of something as incompatible with its 
subjective aim. Negative prehensions hold only 
of prehensions of eternal objects. 2 Something 
which is red negatively prehends blue, by ex 
cluding it as an alternative possibility. Whitehead 

1 Category of Explanation xii. 

2 An analysis of this notion, as well as a discussion of what 
Whitehead means by the eternal objects, will be found in the 
next chapter. 



SOME PRIMARY NOTIONS 97 

has to maintain that such a relation of exclusion 
is a bond of a certain kind (since the reason for it 
is to be found in the nature of the actual entity 
and the eternal object considered together), if he 
is to maintain the universal relativity of everything 
to everything else. At the same time, by the 
notions of relevance and incompatibility he tries 
to avoid the difficulties of an out and out monism. 
When we seek to analyse or describe an actual 
entity we are considering some of its prehensions, 
positive or negative, of other actual entities and 
eternal objects. These prehensions all contri 
bute their element of definiteness to the total 
character of the actual entity; and in analysis, 
we are distinguishing some of these elements 
and considering them in abstraction. But this 
division of an actual entity into its prehensions 
loses the final causation the subjective aim 
which is making this concrescence of prehensions 
into a real (concrete) unity. Note that this is 
just what happens in scientific analysis. The 
element of final causation by which an entity 
constitutes itself is lost. This does not mean 
that scientific analysis into prehensions is false. 
It does give us an analysis of the morphology, 
or pattern, formed by the prehensions of an actual 
entity, which describes certain real features of 
its definite character, but omits the " real 
internal constitution " on which in the last re- 



98 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

sort these depend. So two descriptions of an 
actual entity are necessary; 1 one, that of scientific 
analysis, which describes the prehensions of actual 
entities in a nexus, as " public matters of fact " ; 
the other, the feeling from the inside of the sub 
jective aim, which is a " private matter of fact," 
which, Whitehead says, can only be got by a 
Bergsonian intuition. These two sides are both 
necessary for the complete description of anything. 
But it is pointed out 2 that they are not entirely 
independent, since how an actual entity becomes 
constitutes what it is. This follows from Category 
of Explanation vi. the statement that the mode 
in which an actual entity prehends its ^world 
depends on its subjective aim. But this again 
involves taking seriously the idea of Process. The 
actual entity is not something with a character 
from which its feelings result. What it is arises 
out of the way in which it feels. 

Scientific analysis in terms of prehensions is 
called "division." 3 The exhibiting of a con 
nection between prehensions is called " Co-ordi 
nate Division." 4 This " co-ordination of prehen 
sions expresses the publicity of the world, so far 
as it can be considered in abstraction from private 

1 Category of Explanation viii. 

2 Category of Explanation ix. 

3 Category of Explanation x. 

4 See Process and Reality, Pt. IV. 



SOME PRIMARY NOTIONS 99 

genesis. Prehensions have public careers, but 
they are born privately." 1 

This explains why, on this view, the analysis 
of an actual entity in terms of the static morph 
ology of its prehensions does not distort its nature 
in the way in which Bergson claims. It is because 
when an actual entity has become, or in White- 
head s phrase, has " achieved definiteness," it is 
fully coherent, a unity in which each element plays 
its own part as contributing to the total, and 
no element is duplicated. This final stage is 
called the " satisfaction." 2 Analysis of the mor 
phology of prehensions is analysis of the different 
elements which have brought each its unique 
contribution to the " satisfaction " (or perhaps 
we may say equilibrium) which is the completed 
actuality. We may illustrate this by thinking 
of a picture, or a play, in which the significance 
of any one element can be seen when the whole 
is completed. 3 

For this general view of the essence of a 
thing as consisting of its prehensions plus its " real 
internal constitution," Whitehead refers us to two 
other inspired passages in Locke ; the one 4 where 
Locke says that powers form a great part of our 
complex ideas of substances; that is to say, the 

1 Op.cit. p. 411 (444). 

2 Categories of Expknation xxv., xxvi. 

3 This notion will be discussed more fully at the beginning 
of Chapter VII. 4 Essay II., xxiii., 7 and 10. 



IOO WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

capacities of things for acting and being acted 
upon in certain ways under certain conditions 
make up our ideas of their nature ; and the other, 
a passage 1 in which Locke forecasts the main 
doctrine of the Philosophy of Organism. " For 
we are wont to consider the substances we meet 
with, each of them as an entire thing by itself, 
having all its qualities in itself, and independent of 
other things. . . . We are then quite out of the 
way, when we think that things contain within 
themselves the qualities that appear to us in them ; 
and we in vain search for that constitution within 
the body of a fly or an elephant, upon which depend 
those qualities and powers we observe in them. 
For which perhaps to understand them aright, 
we ought to look not only beyond this our earth 
and atmosphere, but beyond the sun or remotest 
star our eyes have discovered. . . . This is 
certain, things, however absolute and entire they 
seem in themselves, are but retainers to other parts 
of nature for that which they are most taken notice 
of by us. Their observable qualities, actions and 
powers are owing to something without them; 
and there is not so complete and perfect a part that 
we know of nature, which does not owe the being it 
has, and the excellencies of it, to its neighbours." 
To substantiate his claim that the spirit of 
Philosophy of Organism is essentially Car- 

1 Essay IV., vi., n. 



SOME PRIMARY NOTIONS IOI 

tesian, rather than Kantian, Whitehead takes 
every opportunity such as this of pointing out 
analogies between his views and those of the 
philosophers from Descartes to Hume. Inciden 
tally this means that he lets fall many extremely 
valuable obiter dicta, especially concerning Locke 
and Hume. These cannot all be taken uncriti 
cally, but they are often extremely suggestive 
and enlightening. They also perhaps help us 
to see what aspects of the philosophy of the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is likely 
to be of permanent value, and what is of simply 
historical interest. 

I have tried to point out and summarise in 
this chapter some of the leading notions of 
the Philosophy of Organism: creativity, actual 
entity, the Ontological Principle, prehension, sub 
jective aim, objectification, satisfaction. These 
will all be taken up again in Chapters VI. and VII., 
in discussing the types of order of actual entities. 
I shall try in those chapters to deal more precisely 
with the concept of the process of becoming of 
actual entities through their prehensions of each 
other, and in so doing shall be taking note of 
the nine Categorical Obligations of the scheme; 
and also of the conception of nexus, and of other 
kinds of societies of actual entities. The next 
chapter will be concerned with the nature of 
the eternal objects, or order of potentialities. 



CHAPTER V 

ARE THE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS ? 

a Power 

That is the visible quality and shape 
And image of right reasoa. . . . 
Holds up before the mind intoxicate 
With present objects, and the busy dance 
Of things that pass away, a temperate show 
Of objects that endure. 

WORDSWORTH, The Prelude. 

THE appearance of Process and Reality both pro 
vides us at last with the detailed formulation of 
the metaphysical scheme underlying Whitehead s 
earlier work and confirms a strong suspicion that 
the best general description that may be given of 
his philosophy is to say that it is a modern form 
of Platonism. Whitehead himself owns and 
welcomes this analogy, 1 but this suggestion of a 
possible way of interpreting him has not, so far as 
I am aware, been very much taken up. The aim 
of this chapter is therefore to trace some of what 
may be called " Platonic elements " in Whitehead s 
philosophy, considering it as a general meta 
physical position, and in particular to ask whether 

1 Process and Reality, p. 54 (63). 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS ? 1 03 

his eternal objects can be looked on as in any way 
analogous to the Platonic Ideas. 

" Platonism " is of course a term to be used 
advisedly. But one may perhaps guard oneself 
at the outset by distinguishing two ways in which 
it may be used, (a) It may refer to what, broadly 
speaking, we may call Platonic Studies, i.e. the 
specific, critical examination and elucidation of 
meanings in Plato s own philosophy. () It may 
stand for the general type of world view which has 
come to be considered as the Platonic tradition 
all through the history of thought. In this 
sense it may be used of the " Christian Platonists," 
from the Alexandrian Fathers, and St. Augustine, 
to the Cambridge Platonists, and finally to Dean 
Inge; of Wordsworth, and Emerson, and any 
others who have carried out an imaginative de 
velopment of a line of thought suggested to them 
by reading Plato. The difficulty in this broader 
and looser use of the term " Platonism " is, of 
course, that it may lead us to read into Plato himself 
all sorts of ideas which are not really there to the 
despair or annoyance of Platonic scholars in the 
former sense. 

In speaking of " Platonism " in Whitehead s 
philosophy, I shall be using the term in the 
second sense; and at the outset, I shall take the 
precaution of pointing out that my aim is to sug 
gest an interpretation of Whitehead rather than 



IO4 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

of Plato. I wish to try and show how certain 
general ideas suggested by Plato are worked out 
in a new form by Whitehead. 

We cannot remind ourselves too often that we 
must guard against the temptation of reading 
modern ideas into Plato. But when we turn 
back to him after reading modern philosophy, we 
are impressed by the way in which the general 
questions he raised remain for us, as for him. 
His answers, and the setting in which they are 
given, may be in terms of very different categories 
of thought from those of the modern world. But 
essentially he seems much nearer to us than much 
modern philosophy, certainly than much of that 
of the recent past. 

With these preliminary reflections, let us now 
turn to look at the view of Whitehead and that 
of Plato considered as a general metaphysical 
position. Whitehead sees the general meta 
physical problem, as Plato did, as the search 
for "the forms in the facts," 1 that is, as the 
disentangling of the permanent elements in the 
universe from the passing flux. The immediate 
sense of the flux of things ndvra pel is, he 
tells us, 2 the first and obvious delivery of un 
critical thinking; and yet at the same time we 
find in our moral and intellectual experience an 

1 Op. /., pp. 27 (30), 54 (63). 

2 Ibid., p. 295 (317). 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS ? 1 05 

insistent demand for some permanence amid the 
flux. Therefore the problem of metaphysics is 
to find the right relation between the permanent, 
or timeless, and the changing elements in the 
universe, so as to do full justice to both. 

Plato, in the same way, arrived at his Theory 
of Ideas from a desire to escape from the material 
ist, relativist metaphysics of the flux philosophers, 
the Heracleitean doctrines taught by him Cratylus. 
He insisted that such a view did not do justice to 
intellectual knowledge and moral experience. (In 
this latter point, at any rate, he was probably 
following Socrates.) So he was faced with the 
problem of the order amid change. How can 
Process exhibit structure and permanences ? His 
answer was that this is only possible because it 
" participates " in the forms. He seems to have 
arrived at this answer by arguing that knowledge 
can only be of what is permanent and does not 
change; so the object of abstract, conceptual 
thought is given a transcendent reality, and in 
contrast to it, the process, or flux, of things is given 
a merely derivative and deficient reality. 

Whitehead, 1 on the other hand, starts with an 
analysis of the concept of Nature implied by 
physical science. He shows what a thorough 
overhauling of its basic notions modern physical 

1 In The Concept of Nature > The Principles of Natural Know 
ledge > and The Principle of Relativity. 



io6 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

science must undergo if it is to be truly " meta 
physical." Nature can no longer be regarded 
as permanent " bits of matter " in space-time, but 
as an interrelated network of events, which come 
into being and perish. 

Then how can the passing flux of events ex 
hibit permanences ? Here Whitehead s answer 
is substantially the same as Plato s. It is through 
the " ingression " of " eternal objects." These 
eternal objects are forms of definiteness, " hows " 
for the process of becoming, which can only 
acquire determination by participating in them. 

This general line of thought is a familiar one, 
and certainly Platonic. But before discussing 
it in more detail, it may be as well to remind 
ourselves of the fundamental problem to which 
it gives rise. 

What is the status of the eternal objects ? 
This is of course but one form of the time-old 
problem as to the status of universals. It would 
seem as though there were three possible solutions 
open to Whitehead: 

(a) Some form of Platonic realism. The forms 
are transcendent and timeless, existing ante 
res. (Plato, it will be remembered, while 
he took this view, left the locus of his realm 
of forms, and its exact relation to the world 
of becoming largely undefined, beyond 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS ? IOJ 

speaking of it as in some sense transcendent 
reality, a world of being, an virepovpavios 
TOTTOS.) 

() He might put forward a doctrine of " subsist 
ence " of the forms, like that of Santayana 
in his Realm of Essence. I shall have to 
come back to this view later, and give my 
reasons for thinking Whitehead has been 
wise in rejecting it. 

(c) He might define universals as recurrent types 
of uniformity exhibited in the process, but 
without any status outside it. That is to 
say, that given his view of the world as a 
multiplicity of pluralistic processes of be 
coming, certain types of cohesion might 
recur and be sustained through successive 
processes. This would fit in with the 
theory of the" laws of nature " as statistical, 
the average uniformities displayed through 
the dominant characteristics of societies of 
actual occasions. The whole process then 
may exhibit certain general uniformities 
and recurrent types, and, as we recognise the 
resemblance between these, we give them 
a general name. 1 This could mean that 

1 This, if I read him right, is the view of Professor N. Kemp 
Smith, in his articles " On the Nature of Universals," in MinJ 9 
N.S. 142, 143, 144 (vol. xxxvi.). It would be a special form 
of the nominalist doctrine that universals only exist in rebus. 



io8 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

the eternal object does not exist at all until 
it is exemplified in actuality, i.e. it is simply 
the formula, or form of definiteness, ex 
hibited in some process; and when it has 
been exhibited in diverse processes, we give 
it a common name. 

Whitehead s view was something very like this, 
at any rate in his earlier books. The clearest 
statements of it are in the chapter on " Objects " 
in The Concept of Nature, and the important chap 
ter called " The Relatedness of Nature " in The 
Principle of Relativity. He there showed clearly 
that if we are to look on nature as a passage or flux 
of events, sense-perception and that systematisa- 
tion of our perceptions which we call physical 
science will only be possible if there are recog 
nisable characters sustained by the flux, since all 
observation implies recognition. "Recognition 
is that relation of the mind to nature which pro 
vides the material for the intellectual activity." 1 
Even Hume, though he tries to dispose of the 
notion of necessary connection, has to presuppose 
repetition in the character of experience. 2 

The elements in nature which "do not pass," 
and so provide for the possibility of recognition 
amid passing events were called "objects." In 

1 Concept of Nature, p. 143. 

2 Process and Reality, pp. 190-191 (206-208.) 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS ? 1 09 

the chapter in The Concept of Nature different kinds 
of objects were distinguished sense objects, 
which might be described as any recognisable data 
of awareness, e.g. blue; perceptual objects, which 
are relatednesses of sense objects in the events 
concerned, and also (apparently) considered as 
related to a percipient. 1 Chairs, tables, trees and 
stones are called perceptual objects, which are 
further described as " true Aristotelian adjectives " 
of the events in which they are situated. 2 Physical 

1 See " Uniformity and Contingency," Proc. of the Aristote 
lian Society, N.S., vol. xxiii., pp. 14-17. 

2 By an " Aristotelian adjective " he explains ( Uniformity 
and Contingency, p. 1 5) he means a " pervasive " adjective, 
" meaning by that term an adjective of an event which is also 
an adjective of any temporal slice of that event. For example, 
a perceptual object say a chair which has lasted in a room 
for one hour, has also lasted in the room during any one minute 
of that hour, and so on." For an appreciative discussion of this 
view of Whitehead s, see F. P. Ramsey, The Foundations of 
Mathematics, pp. 127, 136-137. He argues from an analysis of 
the proposition " Socrates is wise " that " Socrates " and " wise " 
are alike adjectives of events. R. B. Braithwaite, in his review 
of Science and the Modern World (Mind, October, 1926), has, 
however, pointed out the confusion caused by Whitehead s 
present view of the internal relatedness of all events and eternal 
objects, when we try to reconcile it with this former view, of 
a perceptual object as an Aristotelian adjective. He then said 
{Uniformity and Contingency, p. 17) that "an Aristotelian 
adjective marks a breakdown of the reign of relativity ; it is just 
an adjective of the event which it qualifies. And this relation 
of adjective to subject requires no reference to anything else." 



IIO WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

objects are described as non-delusive perceptual 
objects; and scientific objects are "systematic 
correlations of the characters of all events through 
out nature. 1 These objects were described as 
situated in events, or having " ingression " into 
them. This means that events are patient of a 
certain character. The events themselves are 
atomic and perishing, but their stream sustains 
certain uniformities, and repeats the pattern of 
their structure. In the chapter on " The Re- 
latedness of Nature " these characters are distin 
guished into the general uniformities of related- 
ness which pervade nature, such as the system 
atic relations of space and time are held to be, and 
the contingent and " essential " characters of 
events. The aim of science is to exhibit so-called 
contingent characters of events as also dependent 
on systems of uniform relatedness. Thus-, in the 
case of a factor in nature called green, it will seek 
to exhibit " the passage of nature in the form of a 
structure of events which express patience of fact 
for green." Yet he held there would still be 
" atomic " characters of events which would be 
independent of the character of other events. But 
even these, if they are to be recognisable, and so 
observable must be repeated throughout a route 
of events. 1 So what we call a " body " is the 

1 It must be admitted that Whitehead does not make as clear 
as we should like him to do the connection between this view 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS ? Ill 

coherence and repetition of a pattern of objects 
qualifying a given route of events. The general 
character of these repetitions of the pattern dis 
played in events is what is called Periodicity. 
There is an interesting discussion of this notion 
in the Introduction to Mathematics, chapter xii. 
Whitehead there shows that the notion of " the 
essential periodicity of things," or their rhythmic 
repetition, in, for instance, astronomical periods or 
in vibrations and oscillations, underlies the whole 
of natural science; and hence the fundamental 
importance of the conception of periodic functions 
in mathematics. This view is also presented by 
Russell. 1 He shows that with the assimilation of 
space and time to space-time, the problem of 
repetition, or recognisable permanence of character 
amid flux, becomes that of a periodic recurrence of 
qualities. So he suggests that a physical " thing " 
may be a rhythmic process, i.e. " a recurring cycle 
of events in which there is a qualitative similar 
ity between corresponding members of different 
periods." He further says that we may distinguish 
three kinds of " things " transactions, steady 
events, and rhythms. Transactions are exchanges 

of " objects " as the permanent features of nature, and the view 
in Process and Reality of the objective immortality of one actual 
occasion in another. (Cf. infra 9 p. 128 .) 

1 Analysis of Matter, chs. xxxiii. and xxxiv., especially pp. 345, 
356, and 363. 



H2 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

of energy between one process and another, 
according to quantum laws ; steady events " con 
tinue, without internal change, from one trans 
action to the next, or throughout a certain portion 
of a continuous change; percepts are steady events, 
or rather systems of steady events." We may 
compare his view of rhythms with Whitehead s in 
the last chapter of the Principles of Natural Know 
ledge. "A rhythm involves a pattern and to that 
extent is always self-identical. But no rhythm 
can be a mere pattern; for the rhythmic quality 
depends equally upon the differences involved in 
each exhibition of the pattern. ... A mere 
recurrence kills rhythm as surely as does a mere 
confusion of differences. A crystal lacks rhythm 
from excess of pattern, while a fog is unrhythmic 
in that it exhibits a patternless confusion of detail." 
The argument of this chapter is to show that the 
essence of objects called " living " is that they are 
rhythmic. Russell makes a fascinating sugges 
tion of a musical analogy to the relation between 
44 steady events " and rhythms 4t that of a long 
note on the violin while a series of chords occurs 
repeatedly on the piano. All our life is lived to 
the accompaniment of a rhythm of breathing and 
heart-beating which provides us with a physio 
logical clock by which we can roughly estimate 
times. I imagine, perhaps fancifully, something 
faintly analogous as an accompaniment to every 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS? 113 

steady event. There are laws connecting the 
steady event with the rhythm; these are the laws 
of harmony. There are laws regulating trans 
actions ; these are the laws of counterpoint." 1 

The essential point in this view of nature is to 
show that, while events come to pass and perish, 
their flux sustains permanent and recognisable 
characters, which make possible sense-perception 
and natural science, and which are described as 
" objects." 2 In the earlier books this difference 
between objects and events was simply stated as an 
ultimate distinction. 

But in Process and Reality and in Science and the 
Modern World Whitehead goes much further in 
speculating as to the metaphysical status of these 
" objects," now called " eternal objects." He 
defines them broadly as " forms of definiteness," 
or " pure potentials for the specific determination 
of matters of fact." The metaphysical status of an 
eternal object is, therefore, to be a possibility for 
actualisation. But if it is a possibility, it is in 
determinate, in the sense he gives the word in this 
context, as meaning not realised, or necessarily to 
be realised, in actuality. Yet if it is to be a " real 
possibility," i.e. effectively available for actualis 
ation, according to the Ontological Principle it 

1 Analysis of Matter, p. 363. 

2 Cf, Russell, op. cit.y p. 81, on qualitative continuity as the 
mark of what is called a physical object. 

8 



1 14 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

must be grounded, that is, find a sufficient reason 
why it should be something, and not mere non 
entity, in the nature of something actual. So he 
says that its mode of existence is to be " con 
ceptually prehended " or " mentally envisaged." 
This is clear if we take it as meaning an envisage- 
ment by particular actualities. From the back 
ground of the data afforded me by my own past, 
and my relations with other events, I survey alter 
native possibilities, and choose the one which 
accords best with my purpose and valuation. 
This shows again the importance of the idea of 
final causation in the definition of an actual entity. 
An actual entity is a process of self-formation 
through its organisation of the data presented to it 
by the rest of the world, and its u appropriation " 
of these data into itself in accordance with its 
" subjective aim." This obviously calls for alter 
native possibilities; and actuality is defined as a 
" decision? in the root sense of the word, a " cutting 
off," or limitation among possibilities. By ac- 
tualising one, it excludes other alternatives. An 
actual entity, as a stubborn fact, is therefore ir 
revocably a "decision," and limitation, whereas 
pure possibility as such is unbounded and unde 
termined. The actual entity therefore, by de 
ciding one way, excludes alternatives which are 
also " forms of definiteness." So though possi 
bilities do not exist until they are actualised, the 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS? I I 

actual entity envisages them in its decision. The 
course of action upon which it decides is A and 
might have been B. 1 

This would be clear if it simply meant that the 
eternal objects were possibilities envisaged by the 
actualities in the process of the temporal world. 
In so far as they are actualised, they would be types 
of structure displayed by actualities, and given 
suitable conditions, we may say that they can 
recur. In some cases, an actual occasion has an 
imaginative grasp of some possibility never before 
" envisaged," and so we have inventiveness, art, 
literature, creative advance. 

1 Of course this must not be taken as necessarily implying 
consciousness. It is true that Whitehead would say that con 
sciousness emerges with the explicit recognition of alternatives 
e.g. that A is black, and not white. But purpose, valuation 
and " subjective aim " are far more primary than consciousness. 
It is true that his doctrine that all actual entities are bipolar, i.e. 
have a mental as well as a physical pole, necessitates his use of 
what appear difficult expressions, such as " unconscious con 
ceptual experience." But his meaning is plain. Quite apart 
from its crowning phase in consciousness, in every actual entity 
there must be the germ of originative experience which brings the 
possibility of alternative response to stimuli. The main point 
is that we should clearly understand what he means by the 
distinction between conceptual and physical realisation, the 
former being most generally described as " appetition" i.e. 
an originative urge for the realisation of some relevant possi 
bility (the grasp of this possibility, or eternal object, is 
called " conceptual prehension." When the possibility is 
excluded or rejected, we have a negative prehension). 



1 1 6 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

But here we come upon a part of Whitehead s 
view which, unless rightly understood, presents 
great difficulty. There are no new eternal objects. 
Creativity (the merely general, characterless, 
substantial activity at the base of things) brought 
into being as its primordial creature and charac 
terisation a complete " envisagement " of the 
whole realm of eternal objects, i.e. the complete 
conceptual realisation of possibilities relevant 
for any process of becoming whatsoever. This 
is called the Primordial Nature of God; and it 
envisages the possibilities of all conceivable types 
of order, and their relevance to each actuality 
which can arise and be characterised through its 
process of becoming. But here is the difficulty. 
Whitehead insists on the reality of process, of 
creative advance, and novelty in the temporal 
world; and one of the necessary functions of 
" God " is that He should be " the organ of 
novelty." But this sounds as though all the 
novelty we can look for is the choice between 
alternative forms of definiteness already envisaged 
in the Primordial Nature of God. 1 

The difficulty becomes plain if we consider 

1 See, for instance, the discussion of this point in Process and 
Reality, p. 349 (377), where we are told that novelty can only 
come into the world through the " feeling " on the part of 
the temporal actual occasion of the " conceptual feelings of 
God." 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS? Iiy 

a concrete example. A person, Whitehead would 
say, exhibits a certain form, or type of order, 
and we come upon a definition of Socrates as 
" a society of actual entities realising certain 
general systematic properties such that the Socratic 
predicate is realisable in that environment." 1 Does 
this mean that we must conclude that there is 
a " Socratic predicate " which is a type of order 
conceptually realised in the Primordial Nature 
of God as something which may, though not 
necessarily will, be physically realised ? Our 
enjoyment surely Whitehead s, and, one would 
like to speculate, God s enjoyment of the origin 
ality of Socrates would find it hard not to be out 
raged if this interpretation be right. It may be 
said that this originality depends on the unique 
concurrence of (a) the Athenian Society (and this 
demands that " the actual world exhibits a certain 
systematic scheme amid which Athenianism is 
realisable"); (#) a sub-society whose subjective 
aim is bold and imaginative enough to choose the 
" Socratic " type of order; and that these con 
ditions can never recur again, since each type of 
order has to build on and conform to the order of 
the past. Yet if all types of order are primordially 
envisaged as possible for realisation there would 
seem to be no a priori reason against the recurrence 
of the same type, even though in fact in the case of 
1 Op. cit., p. 374 (404). 



1 1 8 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

an extremely complex type the probability would 
be negligible. So we might speculate as to the 
possibility that 

Another Athens shall arise 

And to remoter time 

Bequeath, like sunset to the skies, 

The splendour of its prime ; 

And leave, if nought so bright may live, 

All earth can take or Heaven can give. 

It would undoubtedly simply be a misunder 
standing to read Whitehead in this sense. Yet 
his view that the temporal process, in so far 
as it is characterised and definite, is so by reason 
of the ingression of the eternal objects, combined 
with his 3rd Category of Explanation, that there 
are no new eternal objects, and the view that all 
predicates are complex eternal objects, 1 might 
it must be admitted, lend itself to such an inter 
pretation. The difficulty arises from Whitehead s 
use of his Ontological Principle. In the i8th 
Category of Explanation this is defined as meaning 
that actual entities are the only reasons, so that 
everything in the universe depends either on the 
character of some actual entity, or on its own 
" subjective aim " ; and again we are told 2 that 

1 We may remind the reader that " Socrates," on Whitehead s 
view, is a predicate characterising the events constituting the 
" Socratic " life. Cf. supra p. 109 n. 

2 Process and Reality, p. 58 (68). 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS? 119 

everything is traceable to the " decision " of actual 
entities. We are told moreover that the " decision " 
whereby an actual entity forms itself (i.e. becomes 
determinate) grades the whole multiplicity of 
Platonic forms in a diversity of relevance to itself. 
They are potentialities, positively or negatively 
prehended (i.e. accepted or excluded), for reali 
sation in that process of self-formation. But, 
by an application of the Ontological Principle, 
we are told 1 that "the general potentiality of 
the universe must be somewhere." The notion 
of the " subsistence " of these potentials is really 
a fudge, since it suggests that something can 
float into the actual world out of nothing. It 
should really stand for " the notion of how 
eternal objects can be components of the primor 
dial nature of God," and " eternal objects as in 
God s primordial nature, constitute the Platonic 
world of ideas." This seems to mean that when 
we say that the creative advance opens up new 
potentialities before itself, i.e. makes possible 
the realisation of new types of order, it does this 
through permutations and combinations of the 
infinite variety of forms primordially envisaged in 
" God." But it remains to be seen whether we can 
disentangle the general significance of this from 
the implication, which has been seen in it, that 
all the aesthetic beauty, the art, friendships, 
1 Op. /., p. 63 (73). 



I2O WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

humour, unexpectedness and remorselessnesses 
experienced in the process of the temporal world 
are simply exemplifications of " forms of definite- 
ness " primordially envisaged. 

Whitehead s view has immediately suggested, 
probably to a good many, that he is restating and 
developing the age-old answer as to the status of 
the Platonic Ideas, which held that they were 
ideas in the Mind of God. This was the modifica 
tion of Platonism first made, so far as we know, by 
Philo, taken from him by the Alexandrian Fathers, 
and given classic expression by St. Augustine. 
It was further developed by St. Thomas Aquinas, 
who has a passage on this subject worth quoting 
here, since it might almost be applied word for 
word to Whitehead s view. 

44 God is the prima causa exemplaris of all 
things. . . . For the production of any thing 
there is needed a prototype, in order that the 
effect may follow a determined form. The deter 
mination of forms must be sought in the divine 
wisdom. Hence one ought to say that in the 
divine wisdom are the rationes of all things ; these 
we have called ideas, to wit prototypal forms 
existing in the divine mind. Although such 
may be multiplied in respect to things, yet really 
they are not other than the divine essence according 
as its similitude can be participated in by divers 
things in divers ways. Thus God Himself is the 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS? 121 

first exemplar of all." 1 There is of course consider 
able difference in the outcome of the two views. 
Whitehead would not agree with St. Thomas 
that creation proceeds by emanation from the 
primordial cause, God, but would only claim that 
God provides the final causation for the self- 
creation of actual entities, and also the initial 
limitation upon mere creativity in virtue of which 
there can be any order, or process of creative 
advance whatsoever. In Religion in the Making 
and the chapter on " God " in Science and the 
Modern World^ he made clear that unfettered 
creativity and unbounded possibility between 
them would be impotent to produce anything. 
There must therefore be a primordial limitation 
upon creativity, for which no sufficient reason 
beyond itself can be given, but which will, by 
providing an ordering of all eternal objects, 
set the stage for some (though not necessarily 
any particular) course of events. This will be 
taken up again in our last chapter. It is God in 
His function as the Principle of Concretion. 

The view of the prototypal ideas as existing 
in the Divine Mind was no doubt the natural 
development for Platonism to have undergone, 
when it was sought to bring it into logical rela 
tionship with a system of theology. Its advan 
tages were obvious, since (a) it gave an apparently 

1 Summa Theologica I, Quaes. xliv., art. 3. 



122 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

reasonable answer to the difficult question as to 
the status of the Ideas ; () it gave God a neces 
sary place and function in the metaphysical system, 
which could then be used as a prolegomenon 
to theology, and for the vindication of religious 
aspiration; and (c) it gave the Ideas a dynamic 
character, since they could be looked on, not as 
remote abstractions, but charged with the divine 
love of the Thinker, and so as effective instru 
ments in creation. 

The literature and controversy which has 
gathered round the discussions of the relation 
between Plato s God and the Ideas is enough to 
make anyone hesitate to advance a view on this 
point. But at any rate it is possible to say that 
Plato himself did not identify the Ideas with 
God, nor were they in His mind. The Demi- 
ourgos of the Tim*eus looks to the avro o eWi 
<2o*> as his model, but it is not an idea in his 
mind. Note however that the Demiourgos, 
the Ideas, and the world do here need each 
other the Demiourgos can only create the 
world by envisaging the ideas as relevant possi 
bilities, and it is this envisagement which 
makes the Ideas effective for ingression into 
the temporal process. We might therefore 
here claim a certain analogy to Whitehead s 
view. But on the whole we may say that Plato s 
theory of God is unsystematic and unmetaphys- 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS? 123 

ical. It is almost impossible to determine His 
place and function in his philosophy. (The 
place given Him in Whitehead s system, as the 
timeless source of order, seems to be taken by the 
Idea of the Good though here again, the meaning 
of the Idea of the Good, and its relation to God is an 
other time-honoured crux of Platonic scholarship.) 
The reason seems to be that Plato, though 
a believer in critical definition such as the 
world has never seen, is prepared, when he comes 
to a question of ultimate religious aspiration 
to which no rational answer can yet be given, 
simply to suggest one in myth. Thus, when 
he is giving us metaphysical reasoning, we know 
that it is such ; when myth and religious imagery, 
we also know it is such. I should not of course 
wish this to be taken as necessarily implying 
that I think that Plato held that myth was a 
" higher way of knowing " than rational argument, 
or that religious experience was from its very 
nature irrational (though there sometimes seems 
a great deal to be said for this view). I am merely 
concerned to point out that Plato, as distinguished 
from many of his followers, generally knew what 
he was about, so that when he gives us straight 
reasoning, we can recognise it as such, and when 
he comes to questions which he knows are not as 
yet soluble by straight thinking, he does not 
claim to be able to do so, but suggests the kind 



124 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

of answer which there may be in a myth, being 
fully aware that it is myth. 

The use of the term " God " in Whitehead s 
philosophy makes it difficult for some readers to 
see what exactly he implies without bringing in a 
host of presuppositions and associations which 
would be quite foreign to his own meaning. On 
the other hand, metaphysics has, or should have, 
advanced since Plato, and, unless we take the 
view of religious truth as something incapable 
of rationalisation, we have to say that White- 
head is right in trying to * formulate as clearly 
as possible the concept of God as it enters into 
his metaphysical system. He is also surely right 
in maintaining that rational explanation must 
be pushed to its furthest limits, and that there 
should be some point in our metaphysics which 
necessarily demands a natural theology, if there is to 
be a philosophical vindication of religion ; but at the 
same time, it is hard to over-estimate the difficulties 
involved in demanding that the pre-eminently in 
tuitive and imaginative symbolism of religion be 
handed over for metaphysical systematisation. 

We must now return to the problem of how 
it is that Whitehead claims that envisagement 
in the Primordial Nature of God provides a 
status for the eternal objects apart from the 
temporal course of events. 

We may first note that, like Plato, he seems 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS? 125 

to be starting from an interest in the problem 
presented by the order in the world. Is it 
self-explanatory, as the relativist philosophers of 
Plato s day and ours would maintain, certain 
uniformities which are statistical averages derived 
from the net result of the actions and reactions 
and interrelations of the total multiplicity of 
particulars ? Or can it only be rendered in 
telligible with reference to a timeless source 
of order, which transcends the particularities 
and contingencies of the world of becoming ? 
I do not. think that the answer is as simple 
as Professor Shorey would suggest, in his 
paper called " The Socratic Element in Plato" 
(read before the Sixth International Congress of 
Philosophy). He says that everyone is (are we 
to gather temperamentally ?) either a material 
ist or he is not; and Plato, being emphatically 
one who was not, had to hide his transcendental 
spiritual reality away somewhere, so he located 
it in the general, abstract concept; and, in com 
parison with the reasonableness of this device, 
Professor Shorey describes Whitehead s " eternal 
objects in the realm of possibility " as " nephelo- 
coccygean." In the first place, we are tempted 
to ask Professor Shorey whether, as a meta 
physical solution, Whitehead s view and that 
of Plato do not stand or fall together. In the 
second place, surely both Plato and Whitehead 



126 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

would claim more justification for the introduction 
of the forms than a merely arbitrary device to find 
a convenient hiding-place for their Ding an sich. 
But can their claim for a metaphysical justifica 
tion in making the forms in some sense y&piava. 
separate be vindicated ? 

Whitehead s definition of the status of the 
forms as possibilities to be realised in actuality 
has the advantage of avoiding the criticisms 
of the T/HTOS av^/ocwTTos type namely, as to 
how, if the forms and things are in different 
realms of being, they are to be brought into 
relation without some intermediary connecting 
link; for, if they, as well as particular things, are 
substances we shall want a third something which 
will express the resemblance between the form 
and the thing, and so on in an infinite regress. 
According to his view, the relation of the form 
and the process is that the former is a possi 
bility relevant for realisation. 

The most complete statement as regards the 
question of the relation of the forms to each 
other, and the structure of the realm of eternal 
objects, is given in the chapter on "Abstrac 
tion " in Science and the Modern World. It is 
clear that we have here a development of the 
Platonic notion of the Kouwvta, or interrelation 
of forms with each other. 1 We start from 
1 Cf. Sophist, 253 a-e. 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS? 127 

" the general fact of the systematic mutual re- 
latedness inherent in the character of pos 
sibility," i.e. presumably, how every eternal 
object is related to every other in the Primordial 
Nature of God. This simply seems to mean 
that, given the realisation of some possibility by 
an actual occasion, all other possibilities before 
that actual occasion will be graded in varying 
degrees of relevance to it as compossible. But 
unless we are to hold that these further possibi 
lities are determined by the existing physical 
structure of the universe, in which case there 
can be no " advance into novelty," we must 
say that there are possibilities which are un 
determined and yet at the same time real i.e. 
entertained by the universe as relevant for realisa 
tion because they are grounded in a principle 
of order which transcends the already actualised 
order of the temporal world. 1 In Process and 

1 This may suggest the answer Whitehead would give to the 
objection raised in the review of Process and Reality in Mind, 
October, 1930 (by Miss Stebbing), and in an article by Mr. Hill 
of the University of Chicago in a recent number of the Journal 
of Philosophy, entitled " Of What Use are Whitehead s Eternal 
Objects ?" It is claimed that all the functions Whitehead 
formerly ascribed to " objects " (identity, repetition, permanence, 
abstraction) are in his present system fully accounted for by 
actual entities, owing to the doctrine of the objectification of 
one actual entity in another. But Whitehead here makes it 
clear that apart from some ordering of possibilities transcending 
those actually realised in the temporal world, there can be no 



128 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

Reality 1 tiiis order is described as "transcendent 
decision," i.e. God s Primordial Nature is a " con 
ceptual realisation," in the sense Whitehead always 
gives this phrase, namely a conceptual envisage- 
ment of eternal objects together with an " appeti- 
tion" towards their physical realisation. God there 
fore brings the eternal objects into relation to the 
temporal world in two ways, (a) He is the 
ground transcending the temporal world, for pos- 

explanation of novelty and creative advance. It is therefore 
necessary for him still to maintain a distinction between actual 
entities and eternal objects. But the doctrine of the objective 
immortality of actual entities, in their character as superjects of 
their own subjective experience, in the constitution of other 
actual entities is, as Miss Stebbing points out, a departure from 
the earlier view of events as particular and transient, and objects 
alone as able to " be again." This difficulty would however 
be mitigated if we could say (as Whitehead himself however 
nowhere does, as far as I know) that it is not actual entities which 
are objectively immortal in the constitution of other actual 
entities, but the characters, or forms of their experience which 
are reproduced (cf. infra, Ch. VII., p. 187). The notion of 
" present immediacy " is more consistent with this, and it also 
would accord with the earlier view of " objects." The only 
way of interpreting these views in answer to Miss Stebbing s 
very legitimate difficulty in the passage Process and Reality, 
[p. 66 (76)], in which the Ontological Principle is said to 
" blur the sharp distinction between what is universal and 
what is particular," would be to say that since the eternal objects 
are realised in the conceptual experience of a particular actual 
entity (God), they are no longer subsistent universal. 
1 P. 229 (248). 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS? 129 

sibilities as yet unrealised in it. (fr) He brings 
what would otherwise be simply abstract, " sub- 
sistent " forms into effective relevance to the tem 
poral world, by being at the same time the 
general urge towards their realisation. Since 
this transcendent principle of order contains more 
than a mere " multiplicity " of disconnected forms, 
each possibility realised will open up all others 
either as relevant for realisation, or as excluded 
as incompatible. 1 Exclusion of eternal objects 
by actual entities is called negative prehension. 
Since the reason for an exclusion is to be found in 
the nature of the actual entity and the eternal 
object taken together, Whitehead holds that a 
negative prehension (i.e. definite exclusion on 
the ground of mutual incompatibility) constitutes 
a " bond," or form of relatedness. 

In view of this general fact of the relatedness 
of all eternal objects, Whitehead has to deal 
with the problem of the sense in which we may 
say that some are more " relevantly " related 
than others. Otherwise we are involved in the 
difficulty of monistic logicians, of not being able 
to say anything about anything without saying 
everything about everything, or, in other words, 
in the problem of finite truth. Whitehead s 
solution of this is to say that the general scheme 

1 Cf. the view in the Sophist that some classes do not com 
municate with each other. 



130 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

of relatedness of the realm of eternal objects 
does not require the " individual essence," as he 
calls it, or "what the eternal object is in itself," 
as distinguished from its relational essence," which 
is the eternal object considered as related to 
others, and as potential for ingression into actual 
occasions. 1 So we have a general systematic 
background implied in all eternal objects, and 
within this sub-realms or hierarchies of inter 
related eternal objects, each of which can be con 
sidered in abstraction from parallel hierarchies, 
though not from the general relatedness which is 
the common systematic background of them all. 
The relation of the whole realm to actuality 

1 Science and the Modern World, ch. x., pp. 221 sq . It may 
be remarked that whenever Whitehead speaks of internal rela 
tions, his exact meaning is very obscure. He is unwilling to 
accept the consequences of an out-and-out monism, and yet 
insists that " the relatednesses of an event are all internal re 
lations" (Science and the Modem World, p. 174). The diffi 
culties have been brought out in the review of Science and the 
Modern World in Mind, October, 1926. It appears that while 
every event positively prehends every other, it only positively 
prehends a selection of eternal objects so that finite true pro 
positions can be made about it. But it is to be regretted that 
he does not show the relation between the view here, and that of 
the " essential," " contingent " and " atomic " characters of 
events described in the chapter on " The Relatedness of Nature " 
(cf. supra, p. 1 10). See also " Uniformity and Contingency " 
(Presidential Address to the Aristotelian Society, 1922), Pro 
ceedings of the Aristotelian Society, N.S., vol. xxiii., p. 17. 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS? 

is as a scheme of possibilities of varying degrees 
of relevance. So an actuality x prehending A 
will prehend, through RR/, "the whole sweep 
of eternal relatedness," though it will obviously 
prehend B and C as of more immediate relevance 
than D, E, F, and the relevance of G, H, I 
may be so remote as to be negligible. ABC 
might be called a complex eternal object. If 
we went on building a more and more complex 
structure on the base of the simple eternal object 

R R 



> 

D 
A 

FIG. 2. 

A, it could be called an abstractive hierarchy. 
Each actual occasion prehending A will have its 
" associated hierarchy " of eternal objects. But 
the general form of relatedness RR is incum 
bent upon all participants in the eternal objects. 
It would seem to consist in the metaphysical 
principles of absolute generality. 

But when we come to the sub-hierarchies of 
forms within RR , it is clear that Whitehead in 
tends them to include far more than this. It might 
be tempting to restrict the realm of eternal objects 
to the general logico-mathematical forms implied 
in the structure of things ; and in this case we could 



132 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

say that Whitehead was working out what, accord 
ing at any rate to some of his commentators, 
was Plato s own final view. But it is clear from 
Process and Reality that Whitehead means far 
more than this by the eternal objects. They 
are defined 1 as " Pure Potentials for the Specific 
Determination of Fact " " Forms of definite- 
ness " and again 2 as " Any entity whose con 
ceptual recognition does not involve a necessary 
reference to any definite actual entities of the 
temporal world." 3 And again, we are told that 
they answer to Locke s ideas, in being any 
possible objects of thinking. They are there 
fore any possible " hows " qualities or charac 
teristics realisable by actual entities; and given 
41 relevant " possibility by the general fact of 
systematic relatedness underlying both the eternal 
objects already realised in the temporal world, 
and those which are still undetermined potentials 
awaiting realisation. 

If, however, we could have taken the interpre 
tation of the eternal objects as simply the logico- 
mathematical forms of most complete generality, 
we might have had an answer to the problem 
raised above, namely how far they are literally to 
be taken as archetypes or patterns of all possible 
courses of events. But as it is, we must probably 

1 Op. "/., p. 29 (32). 2 Ibid., p. 60 (70). 

3 Ibid., P . 72 (82). 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS? 133 

simply say that this is a point that Whitehead 
has not made clear. His continual insistence 
on novelty and originality in the becoming of 
actual entities shows that he would not wish to be 
understood as implying a simple "copying " theory. 
On the other hand, the passages here considered 
show that he means that some eternal object or 
form of definiteness must enter into every actuality 
in every respect in which it achieves definiteness 
or determination. Perhaps he would say that 
the novelty consists in the way in which the 
actual entity organises its prehension of eternal 
objects in its own process of self-formation, so 
changing the generality of forms " conceptually 
prehended " into the original particularity of 
physical existence. 

On pp. 412-414 (445-447) of Process and 
Reality the eternal objects are further divided into 
subjective and objective. The latter alone could 
bear any possible analogy to the Platonic Ideas. 
They are qualities or characteristics realisable in 
actual entities. 

The former are characters of subjective forms 
i.e. how actual entities prehend other actual 
entities or eternal objects, the different quali 
tative ways in which feelings are felt. Since 
these also are potentials, they are classed as eternal 
objects. And correspondingly we are told 1 that 
1 0/>.V., p. 330(356). 



134 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

the realm of eternal objects includes abstract 
intensive patterns (i.e. of the " hows " of feel 
ings) as well as abstract qualitative patterns. 
Plato represents Socrates in the Parmenides as 
shocked at the thought of admitting Ideas of 
mud and hair into his heaven of forms. He 
might have been still more shocked at White- 
head s unrestricted immigration policy. White- 
head is however simply applying consistently his 
notion of eternal objects as all possible " hows " of 
definiteness. 

Now that I have been attempting to bring out 
the analogies and distinctions which might be 
drawn between the Platonic Ideas, and White- 
head s eternal objects, it should be made clear 
that in so doing I have been unable to consider 
one whole side of Whitehead s thought, namely 
that in which he analyses the concept of Process. 
The result of taking this into account is that 
while general analogies may be drawn, the total 
emphasis and final point of view in Whitehead s 
metaphysics is very different, at any rate from 
what has generally come to be understood 
as Platonism. To Whitehead " Process " and 
" Reality " imply and demand one another. The 
eternal objects are simple potentials for realisa 
tion in the becoming of actualities. An actuality 
is described as a process of becoming, or experi 
encing, in which it arises as an organic synthesis, 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS? 135 

a self-formation, out of its relations to the rest 
of the universe including the order of eternal 
objects. There is thus no dualism between the 
realms of Being and Becoming. 

Plato is, however, not so very far from such a 
conception in his discussion of Being and Not- 
Being in the Sophist. In criticising the " friends 
of the forms," who deny the power of acting and 
being acted upon to Being, he shows that such a 
complete separation of Being from process, or 
movement (perhaps, though this is a word to be 
used advisedly, we might say from experience), 
leads to an impasse between the Idealists and 
Materialists. He then suggests a definition of 
Being as anything with the capacity of acting or 
being acted upon (Swa/us). 1 We may compare 
Whitehead s 4th Category of Explanation, 2 where 
it is said that it belongs to the nature of " being " 
that it is a potential for every " becoming." He 
calls this the most general statement of "the 
principle of relativity " namely that the nature 
of an actuality is defined by the way in which it 
can enter as a constituent into other actualities. 3 

The dialogue in the Sophist then goes on 4 to say 

1 247*. 

2 Process and Reality, p. 30 (33). 

3 Cf. ibid., p. 39 (43). We may recall again Locke s state 
ment of this principle in his Essay Book II., xxiii., 7, where he 
says powers form a great part of our complex ideas of substance. 

4 249*. 



136 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

that in this case we must agree that motion, life 
and mind belong to Being. "And, O heavens, 
can we ever be made to believe that motion and 
life and soul and mind are not present with absolute 
Being ? Can we imagine Being to be devoid of 
life and mind, and to remain in awful unmeaning- 
ness, an everlasting fixture ?" (Jowett s trans 
lation). Here we have a vehement expression of 
an idea which reappears in Whitehead s repudi 
ation of " vacuous actuality," 1 i.e. of Being which 
has no subjective experience. 

We here seem also to be approaching the idea 
of the Primordial Nature of God; i.e. Plato seems 
here to be criticising heavily the view of the forms 
as static, detached essences. If they are Being, 
they must be set in motion by life and mind; or, 
as Whitehead would say, it is only through a 
44 conceptual evaluation " that the forms can be 
come effective possibilities for realisation in tem 
poral events; and without it there would be no 
sufficient reason for any course of events whatso 
ever. 

The discussion which then follows in the Sophist 
concerning which different " categories " (yevrf) 
can communicate with one another and which 
cannot, results in the conclusion that Rest and 
Motion, Same and Other all communicate in 
Being, and that of these five " kinds," Being and 

1 Process and Reality, pp. 39 (43), 234 (253), 438 (471). 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS? 137 

Other are all-pervasive. The search for the uni 
versal " kinds " in which all things participate is 
held to be the peculiar work of the philosopher. 1 
Here we may compare Whitehead s view of meta 
physics as an attempt to formulate the ultimate 
generalities. 2 

He would also fully agree with Plato s saying 3 
that the sceptics who take the purely atomic point 
of view, that nothing " participates " in anything 
else, are, like the ventriloquist Eurycles, refuted 
out of their own bellies, since everything we do 
and say presupposes interdependence and deri 
vation. 4 Hence the rigid separation of one thing 
from another, a refusal to inquire into the ways in 
which things " partake of" and " communicate in " 
each other, with its outcome in a delight in para 
doxes for their own sake, is the mark of the Sophist 
and not of the Philosopher. 6 Those of us who 
find Whitehead s metaphysics difficult may per 
haps be consoled by the further distinction, that 
the Sophist hides in the darkness of Not-Being, in 
which he is accustomed to find his way about, but 



Process and Reality, p. n (12). 



4 Cf. Process and Reality, p. 247 (267) ; and the discussions 
of causal and " vector " feelings, passim. 

5 259^; cf. Whitehead, Process and Reality, Pt. I., ch. i., 
" Speculative Philosophy," especially I and 2. 



6 254*. 



138 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

" the philosopher always holding converse through 
reason with the idea of Being is also dark from 
excess of light." 

Note. I have not been able to enter into a dis 
cussion of a kind of view which has also been 
claimed as Platonic, and as akin to Whitehead s : 
namely the doctrine of subsistence of the Critical 
Realists, and in particular Santayana s Realm of 
Essence. I will merely point out in passing that 
this kind of view seems to me a degenerate form 
of Platonism, for the following reasons : 

(a) The " essences " completely fail to fulfil 
what was to Plato a necessary function of the 
forms, namely to give an explanation of what 
broken bits of order we find in the world of be 
coming, so that by starting from these it might 
be possible to rise to knowledge of the timeless 
causes of order. But Santayana s essences have no 
necessary connection, no " participation " in the 
world of becoming. As regards this world, we 
are therefore left in complete scepticism, or have 
to circumvent its shocks by " animal faith." 

() The doctrine of essences as " subsisting " 
seems to be little more than a verbal trick to obtain 
the advantages of the transcendent status of 
universals without facing its difficulties, a kind 
of metaphysical representation without taxation. 

(c) Santayana contrasts his " democracy " of es- 



ARE ETERNAL OBJECTS PLATONIC IDEAS? 139 

sences with Plato s (and presumably Whitehead s) 
"aristocracy" i.e. graded hierarchy of forms. 
To Plato and Whitehead, the realm of forms, as 
the source of order which was for "the best," 
would necessarily contain sub-hierarchies sub 
ordinate to those which were sources of subtler 
and richer types of order. 

Santayana may claim 1 to have shaken himself 
free from Plato s ethical prejudice, but whether 
it be prejudice or not, it seems clear to me, if my 
reading of him is right, that an " aristocracy " 
among the Ideas is an integral part of Plato s 
thought, and cannot be removed from it without 
changing his whole meaning. On the other hand, 
Santayana s Realm of Essences, completely demo 
cratic and individualistic, and in no necessary 
connection with anything that exists, seems to 
me little other than (to use, I think, a phrase of 
Whitehead s) " a metaphysical mare s nest." 

1 See, e.g., his Platonism and the Spiritual Life. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS 
Gefuhl ist alles. FAUST. 

IT will be recalled that Whitehead says that he 
holds the central discovery of the Kantian philo 
sophy to be that an act of experience is a con 
struction. 1 But where his Philosophy of Organ 
ism parted company from Kant was in saying that 
what is constructed is not an objective world out 
of the experience of the subject, but primarily the 
subject itself, which is constructed according to 
the way in which it feels its objective world. So 
he says " in Cartesian language " " the essence of 
an actual entity consists solely in the fact that it 
is a prehending thing. 1 2 That is to say, if we 
are to take the concept of process seriously, a 
" thing " is simply the becoming or growth of 
a new way of feeling the rest of the world. It 
will be noted that we here use the term " feeling " 
as synonymous with " prehension." 3 It is used 
in this way throughout the latter part of Process 
and Reality, as covering every kind of relation 
which he described as " positive prehension," 

1 Cf. supra, p. 48. 2 Process and Reality, p. 56 (65). 

3 Cf. ibid., p. 312 (337) and p. 55 (65), 
140 



THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS 14! 

i.e. any action of one entity upon another. So, 
substituting the word " feeling " in the above 
definition, we can say that " the essence of an 
actual entity consists in the fact that it is a feeling 
thing." A concrete actual entity is an act of 
experience; and Whitehead, like Bradley, claims 
that this must imply some kind of sentience. 1 
He goes so far as to say 2 that an actual fact is at 
bottom a fact of aesthetic experience. We can 
here refer to what he calls "The Category of 
Subjective Intensity," which states that since 
actual entities are " drops of experience " some 
degree of intensity of feeling is the common 
denominator of all actuality. (We shall later 
on have reason to suggest that Whitehead s meta- 
physic is founded primarily not on considerations 
drawn from physics, or mathematical logic, but 
on aesthetics.) 

The Philosophy of Organism aspires therefore 
to construct "a critique of pure feeling."* " Feel 
ing " may in some ways be an unfortunate term, 
as suggesting higher grades of experience, or 
even the so-called " intellectual feelings " which 
are conscious. But he is using it as a general 
term to express the fundamental and primitive 

1 Cf. supra, p. 80. 

2 Religion in the Making, p. 1 1 5 ; cf. Process and Reality, 
P- 395 (426). 

Process and Reality, p. 158 (172). 



3 



142 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

thing about experience, which is that it is 
" emotional blind emotion received as felt else 
where in another occasion." 1 This is the kind of 
feeling which in its higher stages we may call 
sympathy; but it might be misleading to use this 
as a general term. It follows from the view of an 
actual occasion as an atomic " drop of experience," 
arising from its prehensions of the rest of its world, 
that if he is to say that an actual occasion repro 
duces features of other occasions in itself (" ob- 
jectification "), this must be described as the 
feeling of the feelings of other actual occasions. 
We must bear in mind that " feeling " is here 
used throughout as the purely general term for 
any kind of acting or being acted upon, in such 
a way that the make-up of the subject is affected. 
In Whitehead s own words, it is " the basic 
generic operation of passing from the objectivity 
of the data to the subjectivity of the actual entity 
in question." 2 

So " causation " becomes the reproduction in 
one actual occasion of the feelings of another, or, 
more precisely, the conformity of the feelings of 
the present occasion to the feelings of others. 
This is particularly important in the case of those 
routes of successive occasions we call an endur 
ing object for instance, an animal body over a 

1 Op. cit., p. 227 (246), and see also p. 55 (65). 
p. 5 5 (65). 



THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS 143 

certain interval of time. In this case, we have 
not simply a bare succession of atomic occasions, 
but a peculiarly full objectification of each succes 
sive occasion into the next, so that there is a 
continual reproduction and conformity of feelings. 
A natural and immediate reaction to this kind 
of view is to say that it is a glaring example of the 
pathetic fallacy an interpretation of the whole 
of nature in terms only applicable to highly 
developed stages of experience. Are we to take 
seriously the statement 1 that wave-lengths and 
vibrations are simply terms, under the abstrac 
tions of physics, for " pulses of emotion "? The 
only answer is that we must take our choice. We 
must agree with Whitehead, Bergson, Bradley, 
that philosophy must approach as near as possible 
to an expression of the concrete, and that con 
crete reality is meaningless except as some form of 
sentient experience, and in this case some view 
like this, which describes the organic connections 
between things in terms of something like feeling, 
is inevitable. If we can find a general term which 
is less suggestive of pathetic fallacies, so much the 
better. It is, for instance, certainly very difficult 
to get used to thinking of the geometrical relations 
of anything as the " feeling of a strain." 2 Per 
haps it would have been better if he had kept to 

1 Op. /., p. 228 (247). 

2 Ibid., Pt. IV., ch. iv. 



144 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

the less misleading because more technical term 
" positive prehension/ 1 

The alternative, with for instance Russell, and 
most of the modern realists, is to look on all this 
kind of philosophy as hopelessly anthropomorphic ; 
and to hold that we are not justified in going 
beyond mathematical and logical formulae, and 
their implications; that philosophy deals simply 
with possible forms of logical correlations, and to 
go behind these to views about the subjective 
nature of actuality, takes us into a region of 
mysticism, where it is illegitimate to claim that 
our guesses are serious philosophy. We must, 
I have said, take our choice; or rather, since the 
choice is very difficult, perhaps impossible, if it 
implies a rigorous exclusion of the other alterna 
tive, we must see how much there is to be said for 
either type of philosophy after its own kind, and 
hold that a systematic development of each by 
different philosophers is likely to be valuable. 
No doubt in the end we need an attempt at a 
synthetic philosophy on Whitehead s lines; but 
while the basic ideas of almost all branches of 
modern thought are in so tentative and transi 
tional a state, there is everything to be said for 
a good many philosophers persisting with the 
more pedestrian, analytic method. But we should 
see the point in what each is trying to do, and not 
1 Cf. fa. V., pp. 3"-3 



THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS 145 

iismiss the former kind of philosophy as mytho- 
ogical nonsense, or the latter as mere logical 
lair-splitting. 

We must return from this digression to the 
heory of feelings as a theory of the self-formation 
>f actual entities. It will be impossible to go in 
my detail into the discussion of the various types 
>f feeling which Whitehead distinguishes. They 
ire set out in Process and Reality^ Part III. In 
:he latter part of this chapter, I shall simply touch 
>n the theory of feeling as it affects Whitehead s 
news in epistemology. In the next chapter, I 
ihall be considering the theory of feeling as it 
iffects his view of the emergence of definite and 
ecognisable types of nexus of actual entities 
n the physical world. In both these chapters 
t will be necessary to refer from time to time to 
:he " Categoreal (sic) Obligations." 1 These are 
:he conditions, according to Whitehead s Cate 
gorical Scheme, to which any process of becoming 
must conform, i.e. they are necessary charac 
teristics of any such process. It may well be felt 
:hat there is a certain arbitrariness about them. 
Why should there be just nine, and why must 
they be incumbent on any process whatsoever ? 
But we can only recall what was said at the end of 
Chapter II. about Whitehead s method in setting 
out his scheme. It is not a dictatorial or a priori 

1 Process and Reality, Pt. I., ch. ii., 3. 

10 



146 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

assertion of first principles, but a formulation of 
general ideas which have been wrought out of a 
long series of critical enquiries. So the " Cate- 
goreal Obligations" are characteristics which 
have seemed to Whitehead essential in anything 
which may be called an actual process of becoming. 
We may not be prepared to accept them all as 
they stand; but at any rate they form a valuable 
table of reference for his basic ideas. 

The first point about which we must be quite 
clear, in considering Whitehead s theory of feeling, 
is the distinction between conceptual and physical 
feelings. This is simply a statement, in different 
terms, and a rather fuller form, of the distinction 
between physical and conceptual prehension. 1 
It must be remembered that he holds that an 
actual entity is always dipolar. Its " physical 
pole" is its feeling of other actual entities; its 
" mental pole " is its feeling of eternal objects, 
which is here called " conceptual feeling." 
Whitehead holds that we must say that every 
actuality has a mental pole, though in the vast 
majority it is dormant or almost negligible. 
Therefore we must not confuse "conceptual 
feelings " with the relatively small class of in 
tellectual feelings called conscious. A conceptual 
feeling is any feeling of an eternal object; that is 
to say, any grasp of a new possibility. Whether 
1 Cf supra, Ch. V., p. 115 n. 



THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS 147 

or no he is justified in using the term " conceptual " 
for an unconscious feeling, it is clear that White- 
head is maintaining that we must make this dis 
tinction between a merely passive being acted upon 
by other actual entities (physical feeling), and some 
form of originative response, which, as involving 
new possibilities, involves what he calls a feeling 
of eternal objects (conceptual feeling). This 
latter kind of feeling he sometimes describes by 
the general term " appetition." 1 This is defined 
as "an urge towards the future based on an 
appetite in the present." He suggests that this 
is the most fundamental thing about nature. 
Things grow because of a feeling of something 
as yet unrealised, yet present in the form of an 
urge towards realisation. He gives thirst as an 
example at a low level. 2 It drives an organism 
to seek some sort of relief, and so to promote its 
life, whereas the unchecked physical tendency 
would lead to its being dried up. In a con 
ceptual feeling the new element is felt as desired 
in the immediate present or the relevant future. 
We meet here another important notion, that of 
relevance. Some factors in the future are antici 
pated as contributors to the subject s own intensity. 
Whitehead says that it is here that we tread on 

1 Cf. Leibniz* use of this term, for the active unfolding of 
the potentialities of the Monad. 

2 Function of Reason, p. 72. 



148 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

the border of morals in the determination of 
what is really relevant; i.e. consistent with the 
subjective aim as directed towards richness of 
order. But this is to anticipate. 

Besides pure physical and conceptual feelings, 
Whitehead admits a third class called " hybrid 
physical feelings." 1 This notion is insufficiently 
explained and seems very obscure. Presumably 
it means the feeling of an eternal object felt by 
another actual entity; for instance, if I feel the 
tree as green, I am feeling the tree as prehending 
conceptually the eternal object green. But this 
was provided for by " The Category of Conceptual 
Valuation," which stated that from the physical 
feeling of a nexus (the tree) is derived a conceptual 
feeling of the eternal object characterising it 
(green). On the other hand " The Category of 
Conceptual Reversion " stated that there is a 
feeling of the distinction of eternal objects, 
prehended in the former manner (according to the 
Category of Conceptual Valuation) from others also 
grasped as " relevant to the Subjective Aim," i.e. 
which the subject is capable of prehending, or which 
fall within its universe of discourse. So there is 
a feeling of "green when you would like it to 
be brown," or " green and not-brown." (This 
feeling of a distinction between realised eternal 
objects and unrealised alternatives is very impor- 
1 Process and Reality, Pt. III., ch. ii. 



THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS 149 

tant. Whitehead holds that it is the beginning 
of consciousness.) A hybrid feeling might be a 
feeling of the tree as entertaining the possibility 
of being brown then " brown " would be an 
eternal object conceptually felt by the tree. The 
only clear statement of what a hybrid physical 
feeling may be is Process and Reality p. 349 (377), 
where we are told that in feeling eternal objects 
we have hybrid physical feelings of God, since 
all eternabobjects are conceptually prehended by 
God, of whom we have physical feelings because 
He is an actual entity. This is certainly an illus 
tration of how far from our usual forms of ex 
pression Whitehead s terminology can take us. 
Whether theories like this have really any impor 
tant significance it is too early to judge. We 
must wait until they have been ventilated for 
longer, and we have become more used to this very 
unusual kind of language. At any rate to say, out 
of the context of Process and Reality^ that when I 
say " red " I am indulging in a hybrid physical 
feeling of God, sounds startling enough. This 
is not necessarily to condemn it, for a theory has 
to be judged in its context. But it is enough 
to indicate the difficulty in importing Whitehead s 
views quickly into our philosophical or theological 
discussions. 

But we must leave this, and turn to the con 
sideration of Whitehead s discussions of perception 



150 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

in the light of his theory of feelings. His view 
of perception is most fully described in Sym 
bolism? and specifically discussed in Process 
and Reality, Part II., chs. ii. and viii. (on " The Ex 
tensive Continuum " and " Symbolic Reference "). 
Certain features in it may be noted which are 
interesting, and on the whole new, contributions 
to the problem. 

In the first place, it divides perception into two 
modes, " causal efficacy," and " presentational 
immediacy." Whitehead makes the former prior 
and more fundamental. This is very important, 
as his view both of the evidence for the existence 
of an external world, and of the notion of * 4 cause " 
depends upon it. For if we take the concept of 
process seriously, all that we actually have at 
any time are the passing events of present imme 
diacy. But in these we cannot get away from 
the feeling of an immediate derivation and 
influence, say from the events of a quarter of 
a second ago. This feeling of derivation means 
that an actual entity cannot be complete in itself, 
but must have what he calls a " vector " reference 
beyond itself. So nothing " needs only itself 
in order to exist," and causation is an assertion 
of this principle. It is not an assertion of un- 

1 Symbolism : Its Meaning and Effect (Cambridge, 1928). 
Barbour-Page Lectures given at the University of Virginia in 
1927. 



THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS 15! 

changing causal laws, or of forces pushing and 
pulling, but simply of the fact that actual entities 
are so related that what happens in one is de 
pendent on what happens in another. Certain 
(though not necessarily all) changes in the charac 
ters of diverse groups of actual entities are thus 
correlated. The Philosophy of Organism claims 
that this is fundamental to what we know of 
nature : the insistence that " causal efficacy " is 
primary in perception is an example. 

There is a feeling, perhaps blind and vague, 
of relevance to a world of the immediate past, 
and to the immediate background from which 
the actual occasion is emerging. The theory 
of perception depends on the clear distinction 
between this feeling of causal efficacy, and the 
contemporary world of the actual entity. Here 
contemporary is defined, in what is apparently 
the sense suggested by the Theory of Relativity, 
as " causal independence." When two events 
arise in such a way that they cannot affect one 
another, they are contemporaneous (e.g. light 
may not have had time to be transmitted from 
one to the other). This definition clearly does 
not imply that two events which are contempora 
neous with the same event are necessarily contem 
poraneous with each other. 1 So in perception 

1 For the ultimate character of the notion of Simultaneity, 
cf. Whitehead s paper in the Proceedings of the Aristotelian 



152 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

we are claiming to see something in the contem 
porary world. What we are really doing is 
using symbolically a feeling of something in the 
immediate past and referring it to something 
in the present. This " something " in the im 
mediate past is a sense-datum, for instance a colour, 
which we take to symbolise a contemporary chair. 
It comes from the immediate past, because, 
Whitehead holds, it depends on the state of the 
body. The nexus of occasions called the body 
is affected in a certain way by other occasions 
external to them, which then objectify their 
feelings in the " percipient occasion," which is 
the " presiding personality at that moment in the 
body." 1 This then interprets these feelings of 
colour, smell, sound etc., as having symbolic 
reference to a world of presentational immediacy. 
Note that this depends on the view that the body 
is really affected by other things (i.e. on the priority 
of causal efficacy) feelings, as he puts it, have 

Society (Suppl. vol. iii.), entitled " On the Problem of Simul 
taneity." See also the paper " Time, Space and Material " 
(Suppl. vol. ii.), in which there is a clear statement of the dis 
tinction between the creative advance of nature and the multi 
plicity of the different time-systems belonging to different nexus 
of events, with its corollary that two event-particles which are 
simultaneous for time-system a will not in general be simul 
taneous for another time-system a . 

1 This notion of a "presiding personality" will be discussed 
in the next chapter. 



THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS 153 

a " vector " reference to a datum felt and on 
the view that these feelings are transmitted via 
the body to the percipient occasion. In most 
ordinary perception the transmission is so nearly 
instantaneous that reference to presentational 
immediacy is very seldom mistaken. But it 
does involve the possibility of error, as when we 
see a patch of colour and refer it to an event in the 
contemporary sky, whereas it really results from 
the causal efficacy of light reaching the eye from 
a star which went out of existence a thousand years 
before. Both error and progress in communica 
tion are made possible by symbolic reference. 

An interesting feature of this view is White- 
head s theory about the so-called " sense-data " 
colours and sounds, and so forth. In his earlier 
work he had protested firmly against a " bifurca 
tion of nature," i.e. any view which divides nature 
into primary and secondary qualities, the latter 
being in some way dependent on mind, or on 
awareness. This was naturally taken to mean 
that all relatedness, on which " qualities " etc. 
are held to depend, is a relatedness of a situa 
tion in nature. Secondary qualities are not 
relative to a different kind of entity called 
" mind." This sort of view might be described 
as "objective relativism." 1 But the "sense- 

1 Cf. A. E. Murphy, "Objective Relativism in Dewey and 
Whitehcad " (Philosophical Review, 1927). 



154 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

data " are now described as feelings of some 
form of definiteness derived by the perceiving 
subject through the immediate past of its body. 
(Hence illusory perceptions are traced to physio 
logical conditions.) The body is just the most 
immediately relevant part of the environment 
of a percipient occasion. 1 These sense-data, 
as feelings of some form of definiteness, are then 
treated as eternal objects predicated of some part 
of the contemporary world. Thus he says 2 that 
colours may be considered either as sensations 
or as qualities. A colour when we see it is part 
of the make-up of the percipient (and in this sense 
a sensation), but we refer it as a quality to the 
wall out there. 3 Here are some obvious diffi 
culties, most of which are discussed in the chapter 
entitled " Mr. Whitehead and the Denial of 
Simple Location " in R. O. Lovejoy s book The 
Revolt against Dualism. I shall refer in the next 
chapter to his criticisms of what is meant by 
" simple location " (with most of which I find 
myself in complete agreement). I will simply 
point out here, with regard to his discussion of 
the more immediate question of perception, that 
he may be right in maintaining that this develop 
ment of Whitehead s view departs from the denial 
of the " bifurcation of nature," as interpreted in 

1 Process and Reality, Pt. II., ch. ii., and Symbolism, pp. 58 sq . 

2 Symbolism, p. 25. 3 Ibid., p. 18. 



THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS 155 

the extreme realist sense of putting all percepta 
"out there " in nature; but not as holding that 
all percepta and the percipient are together in 
one relational complex within nature. 1 

The view of perception is now more complicated. 
We have (a) the influence of certain actual entities 
of the environment on the actual entities of the 
more immediate environment of a percipient oc 
casion, which are called its animal body, and this 
objectification into the animal body described 
in terms of feelings called " sense-data " ; (ft) the 
objectification from the entities of the body of 
these sense-data into the immediately supervening 
" percipient occasion " (which, whether seriously 
or not, Whitehead suggests may be wandering 
about in the interstices of the brain, enjoying a 
peculiar richness of inheritance from the whole 
of the body) ; (c) the using of these sense-data by 
the percipient occasion as symbols for something 
in presentational immediacy. Lovejoy suggests 
that with the introduction of the mediating sense- 
data, Whitehead has gone back on his denial of 
the bifurcation of nature, in favour of some form 
of dualism. 2 But we may observe that there is 
no difference in kind between the sense-data and 
the objects to which they are referred. They are 
simply feelings transmitted through the body, 

1 Cf. Science and the Modern World, pp. 77, 127. 

2 Op. cit., p. 1 88. 



156 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

and used as symbols for the external events, whose 
immediate predecessors were felt by the body. 
We thus have a unity of experience, within which 
some elements are used as symbols of others. 
Symbolism does not imply dualism. 

A more serious objection (though the former, if 
it were valid, Lovejoy would consider a commend 
ation rather than an objection) is that Whitehead 
is simply giving us in very complicated language 
a comparatively common-sense view. But it must 
be remembered that he has to state his view in 
terms of the theory of feelings, and also to safe 
guard himself from speaking of either the per 
cipient occasion or the object of perception as en 
during substances. Since each is, by definition, 
a process, and, as contemporaneous, causally in 
dependent of the other, one can only perceive the 
other through the reproduction of its characteris 
tics through the successive occasions of the en 
vironment. These would be firstly waves of 
light, then the occasions organised in the neural 
structure of the animal body until finally they 
affect the percipient occasion. They are then 
inferred to be characteristics of entities of the 
contemporary environment, which have immedi 
ately supervened upon, and so in all probability 
reproduced, the characteristics of the originally 
transmitting entities. This at least is the only way 
in which I can see how sense-data can be described 



THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS 157 

both as eternal objects (i.e. qualities) and as sen 
sations. 

The important contribution of the view seems 
to me to be the clear insistence, which is surely 
right, on causal efficacy as the prior factor the 
feeling of other things as affecting one. And 
if, with Hume, we call these simply " impressions 
arising from unknown causes," Whitehead points 
out that sensations of the bodily organs, "hearing 
with the ears " and so on, are as inexplicable as 
consciousness of a more remote environment. 
Merely private sensation could be conscious of 
nothing. If this be so, the problem of perception 
should be, not to discuss whether private sen 
sations refer to an external world, but to exhibit 
how the feelings produced in us by external things 
of the immediate past can be used symbolically as 
means of inferring something about the present, 
and of making possible communication with others 
about the nature of a common external world. 

Moreover there is an important statement 1 as to 
the nature of symbolic reference, which makes it 
clear that symbols to be valuable must have some 
" intersection " with the symbolised i.e. some 
element of their structure in common. That is 
to say, the process of abstraction of certain features, 
which attract our attention in the concrete passage 
of nature, is not a purely arbitrary one. The 
1 Symbolism, p. 58. 



158 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

passage has some persistent properties which 
permit of its being analysed in this way. In the 
case of the " sense-data " this must mean that the 
percipient s feeling of them through the bodily 
organs must conform, to some extent at any rate, 
with the original feeling by those organs, which 
should in turn have been determined by the 
nature of the object felt. So a sense-datum, as an 
" eternal object " must reduce itself to the form 
(or character) of a feeling transmitted by various 
occasions to each other. If the symbolism is to 
give any valid information, the form of feeling as 
received by the percipient occasion must still con 
form in some respect to the form as originally 
qualifying the object, and as transmitted by the 
object to its own succeeding events. 

In considering the nature of the abstractive 
process involved in perception, we should refer 
to the 4th "Categoreal Obligation," called " The 
Category of Transmutation." This states that 
any objects which we can perceive will not be 
actual entities, but large societies or nexus of actual 
entities. In this case, what happens is that there 
is a feeling of many actual entities with a similar 
conceptual valuation. Thus an average character 
of the nexus as a whole is elicited, and we general 
ise as to the eternal object characterising it e.g. 
" the tree is green." (Whitehead points out that 
atomic philosophies always have a difficulty in 



THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS 159 

showing how groups can have a common charac 
teristic.) We must think of the transmission of 
feelings as involving a very complicated process 
of abstraction of this kind, so that in the end 
all that is felt is an attenuated general character 
of the original nexus, which is then applied as a 
generalised predicate to the nexus as a whole. But 
even after this attempt, it is nevertheless a shock 
to think that when we perceive, for instance, a 
stone, we have in the end to say that we are " feel 
ing the feelings " in the stone. 

But this is necessitated by Whitehead s view of 
the transmission of feelings. " Objectification," or 
the entry of actual entities into the constitution of 
one another, was described in terms of conformity 
and reproduction of their feelings. This we saw 
might naturally be described as "sympathy," 
if this were not an even more anthropomorphic 
and misleading term than " feeling " (used in 
Whitehead s generalised sense). But this gives 
rise to the very legitimate difficulty pointed out in 
the review of Process and Reality in Mind namely, 
his failure to explain the connection between the 
present view of the objective immortality of actual 
entities through their objectification in others, and 
his earlier view (e.g. in The Concept of Nature} that 
it is only objects, and not events, which can " be 
again." 1 According to the theory of transmission 
1 Cf. supra, p. 128 n. 



160 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

of feelings, " objectification " means the repro 
duction in one actual entity of the feeling in an 
other. But the word " feeling " can surely only 
legitimately be used of something transient, and 
existing only in the present immediacy of an actual 
entity. That same feeling cannot " be again " 
through objective immortality in other actual 
entities. According to this interpretation, there 
fore, the doctrine of the objectification of feelings 
would be a loose way of saying that the feeling in 
one actual entity reproduces the character^ or 
quality, of the feeling in the other actual entities 
which it feels. This " character " or " quality " 
would be what he formerly described as an " ob 
ject," so that there would not then need to be any 
real departure from his earlier view. But the 
whole emphasis of these discussions in Process and 
Reality goes to show that Whitehead does now 
mean that the actual feeling of one actual entity is 
objectified and reproduced in another. The Sub 
jective Form is the feeling of the subject, derived 
from its objects and re-directed upon them. It 
is however to be regretted that Whitehead does 
not explicitly state the departure from and con 
nection with his previous view. 

We pass now to the class of feelings called 
" Prepositional." Whitehead has rather an in 
teresting and original view of propositions, which 
is developed at some length in Process and Reality^ 



THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS l6l 

Part II., chapter ix. Propositions were also in 
cluded among the Categories of Existence, as being 
a new kind of entity, midway between eternal 
objects, which are pure potentials, and particular 
actual entities. They were called " Matters of 
Fact in Potential Determination," or " Impure 
Potentials for the Specific Determination of Mat 
ters of Fact." It is again a little hard to see why 
they should be a special Category of Existence 
they are rather one of the modes of existence pro 
duced by the coming together of actual entities and 
eternal objects. The notion of an eternal object 
is that of a possibility. It is a possible form of 
definiteness for actuality, e.g. I prehend blue- 
ness as realised here and possible elsewhere. So 
eternal objects are related to the actual world as 
potentials for it. Now in a propositional feeling 
there is the integration of the physical feeling of an 
actual entity with a conceptual feeling of an eternal 
object or complex eternal object which does or 
might characterise it. So it is " a tale that might 
be told about actual entities." 1 The actual enti 
ties prehended, which might be described as the 
"food for a possibility," are the logical subjects; 
the eternal object, or more generally, complex 
eternal object is the predicate. 

It is clear that by " logical subjects " Whitehead 
does not here mean the same as grammatical sub- 

1 Process and Reality, p. 362 (392). 

1 1 



1 62 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

jects, since (according to the view in his earlier 
books) substantives in the grammatical sense 
were shown to be adjectival, " objects," describing 
the events, or actual occasions, comprising that 
particular slice of the passage of nature. 1 So in 
the proposition " Socrates is mortal," the whole 
verbal statement (" Socrates " included) would be 
a complex eternal object describing that succession 
of events which was the life history known as 
Socrates. But this does not mean that the pro 
position is to be analysed purely in terms of univer- 
sals. A proposition is a conceptual realisation 
of a possibility as a form of definiteness character 
ising a set of actual entities in their definite nexus 
with each other. So the particular actual en 
tities characterised in just that way are essential 
to it. Bradley s " Wolf-eating-lamb qualifying 
the Absolute " leaves out the important question of 
the way in which concrete particular fact enters 
into a proposition. A proposition is not a pure 
potential. It is a potentiality for fact, referring 
to certain definite actual entities as its logical 
subjects. Whitehead says it might therefore be 
described in Locke s words as an " idea determined 
to particular existences." 2 So every proposition 
refers in some sense to particular existent actual 
entities. Those which do not are not propositions, 

1 Cf. supra 9 p. 109. 

2 Process and Reality, p. 279 (299). 



THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS 163 

but propositional functions. This is a notion 
very important for logic, but not sufficient when we 
want to assert anything about the actual world. 
A propositional function is *.form of a -pro-position^ 
that is to say, an expression containing one or more 
variables such that when values are assigned to 
them it becomes a proposition. So the Principia 
Mathematica is almost exclusively concerned with 
propositional functions; that is, with forms of 
propositions, such that when one form is asserted, 
other forms are seen to be implied in it. The 
usual symbol for a propositional function is <f> (AT), 
which means " any proposition x of this form." 
(We thus meet the important notion of the variable 
e.g. for any proposition of the form p implies y, 
if p is asserted, then q is asserted.) Mathematics 
and mathematical logic show that if any proposition 
is of a certain form, certain other forms of pro 
positions can be seen to be validly implied in it. 
But when we pass from propositional functions, 
which bring in the notion of the variable, and come 
to specific propositions, Whitehead claims that 
these must refer in some sense to the actual world. 
As soon as any definite value is assigned to x the 
proposition refers to some actual entities as logical 
subjects and presupposes the actual world as ex 
hibiting some sort of systematic character. This 
is called an " indicative system W1 since the logical 
1 Process and Reality, pp, 274-276 (295-297). 



164 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

subjects then become " Those particulars as thus 
indicated in such and such a predicative pattern." 
Every proposition presupposes the universe as 
exhibiting some systematic character which makes 
it " patient " of the fact asserted we can see 
this if we try to analyse what we mean by saying 
" The whale is a mammal," So far, therefore, 
Whitehead would be in agreement with Bradley, 
who holds that every proposition ultimately implies 
the system of reality. But he avoids the familiar 
dilemma of monistic logic (which finds that this 
means we cannot say anything about anything 
without saying everything about everything) by 
holding that though every proposition presupposes 
some systematic aspect of the world, it does not 
presuppose the whole system of the world in all 
its detail. How this can be will be seen more 
clearly in the next chapter, where we shall see 
that certain systematic uniformities in the world 
are conceived as fundamental; others as belong 
ing to special and limited types of order. 

So Whitehead here diverges from Idealist logic 
mainly by insisting (#) that we must be able to 
say that particulars can be indicated in judgment; 
() that the fact that a proposition presupposes the 
world as exhibiting some systematic aspect does not 
mean that it implies the totality of the world in all 
its detail. 

We may notice here that a distinction has crept 



THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS 165 

in between proposition and judgment. It is 
probably one of the most valuable contributions 
of Whitehead s view that he makes very clear 
wherein this distinction should be held to consist. 
He holds that a great deal of trouble has come 
from the fact that philosophers have treated pro 
positions as though the primary thing about them 
was a logical judgment as to whether they were 
true or false. But this is a late and highly sophis 
ticated development. Propositions primarily are 
not judged true or false but are entertained. That 
is to say, they are what he describes as " lures for 
feeling," possibilities entertained by the subject 
(i.e. the subject which prehends, or " enjoys " 
them not the logical subject) as relevant for 
realisation. For instance, " redness of the book," 
" Hoover for President," " a drink of water " are 
types of proposition. They may be (a) an urge 
after a difference, () something imagined as at 
tractive or desirable, (c) a statement of the reali 
sation of an eternal object in some actuality. 
Therefore, characteristically, Whitehead insists 
that prepositional feelings are not restricted to 
conscious mentality. They are the conceptual 
data of any feelings, e.g. of horror, indignation, 
desire, enjoyment etc. 1 Consciousness arises from 
an integration of physical and conceptual feelings, 
when the conceptual feelings take the form of an 
1 Category of Explanation xviii. 



1 66 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

affirmation-negation contrast e.g. when I pre- 
hend something consciously as green, I am im 
plicitly distinguishing it from the colours which 
it is not. (We may recall the statement in Process 
and Reality^ I., ch. i., of the importance of the 
negative judgment in mentality.) 

Propositions, therefore, may be broadly de 
scribed as " lures for feeling." And so Whitehead 
makes what sounds like an almost immoral state 
ment, that it is more important for a proposition 
to be interesting than for it to be true. 1 What 
he really means is that in some cases, the truth- 
value of a proposition adds to its interest and in 
others it does not. If for instance I say "An 
elephant is in this room," the proposition is trivial 
if false, but extremely interesting if true. If how 
ever we consider imaginative literature, which is 
throughout an example of complex propositions, 
the role of truth is not nearly so important. For 
instance, Hamlet is a very complex proposition. 
But we are not interested in whether it is true of 
its logical subjects, which were certain events in 
Denmark at a certain time. We are interested in 
it as a lure for enjoyment, or feeling. 2 On the 

1 Process and Reality, p. 366 (396). 

2 There is of course the wider sense, in which it is said that 
Hamlet is true " of human nature," or that it makes us 
understand the world better, and so forth. But the point is 
that this kind of " truth," whatever it may be (and this is a very 
difficult question), is quite clearly distinguishable from the truth 



THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS 167 

other hand, historical propositions derive their 
interest from the fact that we believe these things 
actually to have happened. So the historian is 
letting us down if his propositions are false. The 
whole interest in history lies in our believing that 
it is an attempt at a propositional reconstruction of 
things which really happened. 

Note that truth and falsehood arise out of inte 
grations between the eternal objects as possibilities 
and actual facts. When there is an assertion of 
such an integration on the part of a judging sub 
ject, we have a judgment. A judgment may be 
correct or incorrect; or if the integration is simply 
asserted as possible, the judgment is suspended. 1 
Suspended judgments are of enormous importance 
in science; and perhaps we may say also in 
philosophy, since we do not have to commit 
ourselves on all the theories we seek to under 
stand, and assert as possible. In fact, a large 
part of this discussion of Whitehead s philo- 

of the propositions in Hamlet about their logical subjects. Per 
haps we should say that " poetic truth," and possibly most of 
what is called " religious truth," gives us insight, which makes 
us appreciate the inner side of actuality called here " subjective 
aim," rather than truth of propositions (cf. Chapter III. ; and 
A. D. Lindsay, The Nature of Religious Truth [London, 1927]). 
1 I take it that the distinction between a suspended judgment 
and a proposition consists in the fact that the former brings in 
the relation to a judging subject. See Process and Reality, 
p. 271 (291). 



1 68 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

sophy may be taken as a suspended judg 
ment. 

The essence of a judgment is a comparison of 
the nexus conceptually prehended with the nexus 
physically prehended, i.e. of the imagination 
of a possibility with the feeling of the com 
pulsion of a " fact " (in the sense of a nexus of 
other actual entities). This of course depends 
again on the view of an actual entity as dipolar. 
Its physical pole is the feeling of other actual 
entities; its mental pole is the feeling of eternal 
objects, or the imaginative grasp of new possibili 
ties. In the vast majority the latter is negligible, 
but its presence makes possible prepositional 
feelings, and so the transition to higher forms of 
experience. Whitehead says that when we have 
an integration of the two kinds of feeling in the 
experiencing subject, we call the subjective form 
of its experience a judgment. If there is a com 
plete comparison, so that the physical feeling and 
the conceptual feeling are seen exactly to fit, we 
have an intuitive judgment. But this is exceed 
ingly rare, since there is hardly ever a conceptual 
feeling of a nexus of actual entities apart from 
abstraction and generalisation (in accordance with 
the Category of Transmutation). 1 So the vast 

1 Cf. Russell, Analysis of Matter, pp. 254-255, where it is 
shown that the difficulty of scientific inference lies in the fact 
that the relation S between percepts and a group of events consti 
tuting a physical object is nearly always many-one and not one- 



THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS 169 

majority of judgments are called " derivative." In 
this case we have only a partial comparison of 
the two nexus. But when the abstraction and 
generalisation involved is clearly stated, the judg 
ment may, within those limits, be correct or incor 
rect. For instance, I may judge correctly that the 
nexus of actual entities I call a left shoe will not fit 
with any degree of exactness on the nexus of actual 
entities I call a right foot. 1 

one, e.g. events may happen in the sun without being per 
ceptible to us even with the best telescopes. So while exact 
similarity is a transitive relation, indistinguishability is not transi 
tive. Russell gives the example of a heap of fine powder, which 
we may remove grain by grain, while at each stage there is no 
perceptible difference (ibid.> p. 282). 

1 How important it is to define the limits within which our 
judgment is correct was brought home to me by noticing, after 
I had written this, the point which Wittgenstein makes about 
almost this identical example (cf. Tractatus 6. 36111): "The 
Kantian problem of the right and left hand which cannot be 
made to cover one another already exists in the plane, and even 
in one-dimensional space; where the two congruent figures 
a and b cannot be made to cover one another without moving 



X X Q - - 



them out of this space. The right and left hand are in fact 
completely congruent. And the fact they cannot be made to 
cover one another has nothing to do with it. 

" A right hand glove could be put on a left hand if it could be 
turned round in four-dimensional space." 

So in four-dimensional space the White Knight and his Aged 
Aged Man may yet find their proper milieu. 



170 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

We may illustrate this description of a judgment 
by means of a diagram. 

Whitehead says 1 that his view can be looked 
on as either a coherence or a correspondence 
theory of truth. This is rather misleading, as 
he is not using either term in the sense in which 
we are accustomed to understand it in connection 
with theories of knowledge. He says his view 
is a " correspondence theory " of the truth and 

c 





c 

FIG. 3. 

A=nexus physically prehended. 
B=nexus conceptually prehended. 
C=subjective form of judgment, in unity of experience 
of the judging subject. 

falsehood of propositions, since it is concerned 
with a comparison between the complex eternal 
object considered as a possible predicate of a nexus 
of actual entities, and the actual qualities of that 
nexus. That is to say, the comparison is not 
between an idea in my head, and a fact (whatever 
1 Process and Reality, p. 270 (290). 



THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS 

such a comparison could conceivably mean), but 
between a form of definiteness symbolically 
represented, and one realised in the structure of 
the nexus. Both things compared are therefore 
in some sense actual, and truth and falsehood 
depend on a similarity in their structure. The 
view is also called a coherence theory of judgment, 
because in it the physical prehension of the nexus, 
and the conceptual prehension of the proposition 
are held together in the experience of the judg 
ing subject. If the experience is coherent, the 
judgment is correct. " Coherence " is therefore 
being taken to mean coherence of two different 
kinds of component within one experience. This 
seems an unfortunate use, in being different from 
what we customarily mean by coherence, i.e. the 
mutual implications of a system of propositions. 
I should therefore prefer to speak of Whitehead s 
theory of knowledge as a particular kind of cor 
respondence theory. 

Two further points may be noted. Since pro 
positions refer to actualities of the actual world as 
their logical subjects, new propositions must be 
made possible by the creative advance of the 
world. So " Caesar crossed the Rubicon " could 
not have been a proposition for Hannibal since 
the actual entities referred to in " Caesar " were 
not then in existence. 1 

1 ItiJ. 9 p. 367 (396). 



172 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

Secondly, a question arises as to whether there 
are what we may call " metaphysical propositions," 
i.e. propositions of complete generality, which 
would be true in all contexts for all judging 
subjects. These would relate simply to the 
general character of actualities, independently of 
the specific natures of particular events. White- 
head believes that there are metaphysical pro 
positions, but doubts whether we can succeed 
in formulating them free from the empirical 
elements of our cosmic epoch. 1 He points to the 
mistakes which have been made in the past; for 
instance, the discovery of the limited applicability 
of Euclidean geometry. 

1 + 1 = 2 looks like a metaphysical proposition; 
and Whitehead believes that he and Russell have 
proved it. 2 They defined exactly what is meant 
by i, by 2 and by addition. Then we can say 
that one entity and another entity make two 
entities. But this is often put in the special form, 
which is not at all necessarily true, that if you 

1 He points out the distinction that must be made 
between metaphysics and cosmology. Metaphysics deals with 
the general nature of Being as such ; cosmology with the par 
ticular type of being of our world, and so brings in empirical 
elements. A cosmic epoch is a particular dominant type of 
world order; for instance, our cosmic epoch is characterised 
by electro-magnetic occasions, with dimensions, shapes and 
measurability. But this may not be metaphysically necessary. 

2 Princlpia Mathemattca^ Prop. no. 643. 



THE ORGANISATION OF FEELINGS 173 

have one enduring object, which is a succession 
of entities (see the next chapter), and another, at 
any time the two enduring objects will make two 
separate societies of entities e.g. a cup and 
a saucer viz. : 




FIG. 4. 

A and B are two separate enduring objects. 
But why shouldn t they be like this ? 




FIG. 5. 

i.e. there be one occasion when they are identical ? 
As a matter of fact, if actual entities are electro 
magnetic waves, this might quite well be so. 

So we cannot be certain that we have formulated 
any metaphysical proposition; though the under 
lying propositions of arithmetic (or the primi 
tive propositions in the Princifia Mathematics or 
something like them) seem to be fundamental, 
at any rate for our epoch. 



CHAPTER VII 

CREATIVITY AND ORDER 

To be is no other than to be one. In so far therefore as any 
thing attains unity, in so far it is. For unity worketh congruity 
and harmony, whereby things composite are, in so far as they are : 
for things uncompounded are in themselves, because they are 
one ; but things compounded imitate unity by the harmony of 
their parts, and so far as they attain to unity, they are. Where 
fore order and rule secure being, disorder tends to not-being. 
ST. AUGUSTINE. 

WE have now to consider the theory of prehensions 
as a theory of the way in which actual entities 
become organised into definite and recognisable 
types of society. This is one aspect of what to 
Whitehead is the central problem of metaphysics ; 
the relation between the permanent and fluent 
elements of the world in a philosophy of process. 
We have seen that in the context of the Philo 
sophy of Organism the problem is set by the 
holding together of two views; firstly, that the 
ultimate constituents of nature are events (or 
atomic actual occasions) which come to pass and 
perish; and secondly, that recognition, involving 
at any rate features in the passage of nature which 
have some degree of permanence, is the essential 
presupposition of any kind of observation, every 

174 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 175 

day no less than scientific. The problem set is, 
therefore, a form of the age-old problem seen by 
the Greeks ; how it can be that the flux of nature 
exhibits characters which we can describe in 
terms of abstract universals, or, in other words, the 
problem of the forms in the facts. We must 
now see the bearing of this on the view that 
actual entities display different types of order. 

It was noted above 1 that Whitehead remarks 
that one of the difficulties of an atomic cosmology 
is to explain how groups of actual entities can 
have common characteristics. The failure to do 
this means a failure to explain the apparent con 
tinuities and solidarities within nature. These 
must then just be looked on as aggregates of 
atoms, externally related. For if we consider 
an organic, or internal, type of relation, before we 
know where we are, we have lost the self-sub 
sistence and self-sufficiency of the atoms. So 
atomic philosophies have tended to look on growth 
and change as illusions process is simply the 
combining together in different configurations of 
eternal and unchanging atoms. Even Leibniz 
view of the development of the Monad by Appeti- 
tion simply means an unfolding of its essential 
nature, from confused to clear perception. It is 
a simple substance, windowless, and cannot come 
into existence or perish by natural means. That 
1 Seep. 158. 



176 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

is to say, it depends on a supernatural creation, 
and can only be destroyed by a supernatural 
annihilation, 

But Whitehead is trying to run an atomic 
philosophy which will also be a philosophy of 
process. In doing so, we shall have to ask 
whether he is not putting forward a view incom 
patible with his organic view of the actual entity 
as a concrescence and also ask the relation of this 
to his former view of " objects and events." We 
shall have to ask whether he is not giving us two 
different descriptions, not altogether consistent 
with each other, of what constitutes a process of 
becoming. 

In the first place, there is the view that actual 
entities are atomic. 1 He states that an actual 
entity as atomic comes into being, and perishes, 
but does not change. So he says 2 that Locke 
failed to see that " the doctrine of internal relations 
makes it impossible to attribute change to any 
actual entity. Every actual entity is what it is, 
with its definite status in the universe, determined 
by its internal relations to other actual entities. 3 

1 Process and Reality, I., iii., 3 and passim. 

2 Ibid., p. 8 1 (92), and cf. Principles of Natural Know 
ledge, 14.3. 

3 It must be asked whether this is not a form of what White- 
head has called " the fallacy of simple location." Cf. Science 
and the Modern World, ch. iii. The statement that every actual 
entity is what it is with its definitely defined status in the universe 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 177 

* Change * is the description of the adventures of 
eternal objects in the evolving universe of actual 
things " ; and " The fundamental meaning of the 
notion of change " is " the difference between 
actual occasions comprised in some determinate 
event." 1 Actual entities thus conceived come into 
being and perish ; they are not instantaneous, for 
each is considered as comprising an atomic 
duration. This is called the " epochal theory of 

has to be read in connection with the passages in Science and the 
Modern World in which the denial of simple location is stated 
in the sense that everything is to be thought of as pervading 
everything else. Russell (Analysis of Matter, p. 341) rightly 
says that such a view if taken seriously (and unguardedly stated) 
suggests a " mystic pantheism." But the initial statement of 
the meaning of " simple location " (Science and the Modern 
World, ch. iii., p. 69) shows that the "fallacy" lay in the 
ascription of an absolute position in Space and Time to a bit 
of matter without reference to other regions of Space and Time. 
Space and Time now become internal relations (cf. ibid., p. 174) 
of events to each other. He therefore holds that the view of 
a definite status of a particukr event, as defined by its internal 
relations to other events, is to be distinguished from the Newton 
ian view of its absolute position in Space and Time. But by 
holding to the private particularity (or " atomic character ") of 
an event, as well as saying that aspects of it are prehended by other 
events, he tries to state the principle of the organic solidarity of 
nature without simply ending in a " mystic pantheism." There 
are however serious difficulties in the passages where Whitehead 
states his " denial of simple location." These have been pointed 
out and discussed in detail by R. O. Lovejoy in The Revolt against 
p. 156^. l Proceu and Reality, p. 101(114). 

12 



178 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

time. 11 An " epoch " (in the root sense of 
an arrest or " hold up ") is the slab of duration com 
prised by an atomic event. The epochal theory 
of time is connected with the view of an actual 
entity as vibratory, involving a period in which to 
realise itself. " This system, forming the prim 
ordial element, is nothing at any instant. It re 
quires its whole period in which to manifest itself. 
In an analogous way, a note of music is nothing 
at an instant, but it also requires its whole period 
in which to manifest itself." 1 That is to say, the 
event is a unity, but one in which earlier and later 
incomplete phases may be distinguished, so that 
it is said to involve a duration. But neither 
motion nor change can be attributed to the pro 
cesses of concrescence as wholes. They are what 
they are; they happen and perish. They are 
described in terms of the theory of feelings as 
" throbs of emotion " ; in terms of physical science, 
they may be quantum vibrations. 2 What we call 

1 Science and the Modern World, p. 52. 

2 See IUJ. 9 ch. viii. It is clear from this chapter that White- 
head s particular view of actual occasions is in no way bound up 
with the Quantum Theory, which is, of course, still highly 
speculative and uncertain. But if that theory be true, his view 
of actual entities gains a certain amount of empirical applica 
tion ; while he is simply concerned to point out that " the 
cosmological outlook, which is here adopted, is perfectly 
consistent with the demands for discontinuity which have been 
urged from the side of physics " (loc. cit., p. 192). 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 179 

change and permanence, motion and rest are 
variations and reiterations of the pattern formed 
by successive atomic occasions. So what is 
permanent throughout a succession of actual 
occasions is the form. The form is an eternal 
object, which is situated, or ingredient in a route 
of successive events. 1 In The Concept of Nature, 
the continuity of nature was stated to be a con 
tinuity of events, while its recognisable characters 
were called "objects." 2 Objects are characters 
of nature of which we can say they can "be 
again," whereas events are fluent and continuous. 

An event has the fundamental property of 
extensiveness over other events; and the events 
it extends over are called its parts. 3 Thus events 
are conceived as having parts, namely the other 
events over which they extend; and in White- 
head s earlier discussions, all the relations of an 
event which are interpreted in terms of the funda 
mental property of extensiveness are conceived 
in terms of the notion of whole and part. Now, 
however, 4 the relation of whole and part is taken 
as a more limited notion to be derived from the 
general notion of extensive connection. But 
extensive connection is still the primary and 

1 Cf. Concept of Nature, ch. vii. 

2 Ibid.) p. 144. 

3 Principles of Natural Knowledge, 15. 7, 18. 4. 

4 Process and Reality, p. 407 (439-440). 



180 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

fundamental relation between actual occasions. 1 
How is this compatible with the notion of actual 
occasions as atomic ? 

We may now revert to the second description 
of the nature of an actual occasion namely, as 
a concrescence, or prehending thing. At first 
sight we might say that this is an entirely different 
notion from that of actual occasions as atomic 
and perishing, but displaying a structure of 
repeated patterns, to be described in terms of 
eternal objects. If the actual entity is a con 
crescence, it undergoes at any rate internal develop 
ment: if this is not to be called "change," the 
actual entity is as windowless as Leibniz monad; 
but if this development is the result of its pre 
hensions of the rest of the world, we should say 
that we have a description of an organic process 
of growth which cannot be described in terms of 
atomism. The word " atomism " is an unfor 
tunate one for Whitehead to have used, since it 
has the connotation of ultimate and enduring 
particles, in external relation to one another. 
What he wishes to bring out is presumably that 

1 Process and Reatity, p. 408 (441). It is perhaps unneces 
sary to point out that " extensive connection " does not necessarily 
mean the same as " spatial " connection, which is a more special 
notion. It is the general character of relatedness, which we shall 
discuss presently when we come to the " Extensive Continuum " ; 
and it may be described in terms of the notions of " overlap 
ping," " contact," and " whole and part." 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER l8l 

an actual entity is an individualised activity; he 
is therefore in search of a Monadology rather than 
an atomism. Indeed, if we can substitute " feel 
ing " for perception, or understand by perception 
a form of feeling with a " vector " reference to 
what is perceived, we might well say in Leibnizian 
language that an actual entity perceives the whole 
universe from its point of view. But since an 
actual entity is not a substance supporting quali 
ties, but an individualised feeling, it has no per 
manence. Its feeling is its whole nature, in which 
it becomes and perishes. The feeling ought not 
to be called atomic, if this implies that it has no 
parts, since its comprising a duration means that 
there are earlier and later phases of the con 
crescence and these are to be considered as ex 
tending over other events. But presumably 
Whitehead now speaks of events as atomic in 
order to bring out his view that these phases only 
have meaning in terms of the final satisfaction of 
the concrescence as a whole. This is stated in 
Categorical Obligations i.-iii., and Category of 
Explanation xxviii. The precise meaning of 
the matter may be made clearer by means of a 
diagram. (See page 182.) 

A and B, are phases in the concrescence of an 
actual entity. C is the final phase, not yet reached. 
D is another actual entity, prehended positively 
by A. There is therefore a new prehension of D 



1 82 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

by B, via A, i.e. B prehends A-as-prehending- 
D, and so also the subjective form of A s prehen 
sion of D. E is, say, an eternal object negatively 
prehended by A. B therefore prehends A-as- 
negatively-prehending-E, and hence the sub 
jective form of A s negative prehension of E, but 
not E itself, xy is a cut at an incomplete phase 
in the concrescence. At this cut, the prehensions 
will be incomplete and unintegrated. 1 But since 




a process of concrescence occupies a certain 
duration, in which earlier and later phases can be 
distinguished, these are integrated into one an 
other in the whole concrescence. 

If we are justified in finding a difficulty in 
reconciling this with the view of actual occasions 
as atomic and perishing, the root of it lies in the 
fact that Whitehead does not state as clearly as 
we might wish the relation between the individual 
concrescent occasion, and the nexus of occasions 
which forms a " thing," or " organism " in the 
1 Categorical Obligation i. 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 1 83 

usual sense, namely of a structured whole of parts 
organised for a certain end. Any natural thing 
which we can imagine, however small, is to be 
described as a nexus of actual occasions. Since 
actual occasions themselves do not move or change, 
but are perpetually perishing, anything that 
permits of recognition and movement must be 
a complex nexus. 1 The term " event " used in 
Whitehead s earlier books as a final fact of nature, 
and so corresponding to what we would now take 
him to mean by actual occasion, is here 2 said to 
be a nexus of actual occasions (such for instance 
as a molecule) " interrelated in some determinate 
fashion in one extensive quantum." Our diffi 
culty, of how events are to have parts which are 
the other events over which they extend, can only 
be resolved if we take the " event " of the earlier 
books to be a complex of what he describes in 
Process and Reality as " actual occasions. 1 

But a difficulty still remains in conceiving the 
atomic occasion, even if it be a process of becoming, 
as enjoying a " subjective aim," " propositional 
feelings," and the other kinds of prehension of the 
rest of its world, involving subtle appreciation of 
the " contrasts " which it might stage. To put 
it crudely and bluntly, a " throb of emotion " 
occupying about the dimensions of a quantum 

1 Process and Reality, y. 101 (113-114). 

2 7/V.y p. lor (113). 



184 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

vibration would not have time to live such an 
interesting life. 1 Are not all these descriptions 
of the kinds of prehension involved in a con 
crescence applicable rather to the nexus of actual 
entities as a whole, taken over a long spell in its 
history ? We can with some plausibility talk 
of an animal as having a subjective aim; but can 
we seriously use the same language of an " elec 
tronic occasion " ? 

The only way we can answer this sort of diffi 
culty, which must naturally arise in the minds of 
a good many of Whitehead s readers, is by taking 
up his suggestion 2 that the Philosophy of Organ 
ism is a " cell " theory of actuality ; 3 and especially 

1 Cf. Professor Lloyd Morgan s " Subjective Aim in White- 
head s Philosophy " in the Journal of Philosophical Studies, July, 



2 Process and Reality, Pt. III., i., i. 

3 Cf. J. H. Woodger, Biological Principles, pp. 294 sq. 
Woodger points out that the phrase " cell-theory " is commonly 
used to cover three different meanings : (i.) a certain type of 
biological organisation, (ii.) the events having this type of 
organisation, (iii.) the visual perceptual object which may be 
seen through the microscope. He himself decides to restrict 
the term to meaning (i.), and apply it to the type of organisation 
which proceeds through spatial repetition by division. White- 
head s application of the term " cell-theory " is clearly wider 
than this, though it would include it. But it is consonant with 
the fundamental point in the cell-theory, which Woodger states 
to be the fact that this type of organisation characterises parts of 
organisms whose organisation is above this level \ and " parts 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 185 

by following the valuable guidance of Science and 
the Modern World^ ch, v., pp. 109-112. He 
there shows the problem of materialism in 
explaining the evolution of a thing like the human 
body-mind, if it is simply made up of molecules 
which " blindly run " according to mechanical 
laws. In the Philosophy of Organism, on the 
other hand, he says : " The concrete enduring 
entities are organisms, so that the plan of the 
whole influences the very characters of the various 
subordinate organisms which enter into it. In 
the case of an animal, the mental states enter into 
the plan of the total organism and thus modify 
the plans of the successive subordinate organisms 
until the ultimate smallest organisms, such as 
electrons, are reached. Thus an electron within 
a living body is different from an electron outside 
it, by reason of the plan of the body. The 
electron blindly runs either within or without 
the body; but it runs within the body in accord 
ance with its character within the body. ..." 
It is this plan of the whole which we naturally 
want to describe in terms of subjective aim, 
" grasp at novelty," and so forth, whereas it sounds 
unnatural to apply these terms to the individual 
atomic occasions. Yet we must consider care- 



of one organism are organically related, and this relation is such 
that the parts behave differently in this relation from what they 
do out of it " (of. cit., pp. 3 10-3 1 1). 



1 86 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

fully, in the light of the Ontological Principle and 
the concept of process, in what sense we can talk 
of there being a " plan of the organism as a whole," 
as distinguished from its component actual en 
tities. He reminds us that all the life of the body 
is in its millions of individual cells; there is no 
44 life of the whole " as an entelechy over and 
above this. But there is co-ordinated and or 
ganised activity, so that a plan of the body as a 
whole is served by this particular type of organi 
sation of its millions of centres of life. So if 
we are to try to formulate a thoroughgoing 
organic theory of nature something like this view 
of the integrated subjective aims of the individual 
actual occasions will be necessary; and the ap 
parent pathetic fallacy or anthropomorphisms it 
at present involves may be due to the difficulties 
of expressing these things in a language which is 
not misleading. 

In the first place, let us revert to the statement 
that actual entities are atomic and perish sub 
jectively, so that what is permanent throughout 
a succession of actual entities is the form. What 
reason is there for a route of actual entities, if 
they are simply atomic and perishing, to reproduce 
the same form, so that we may recognise the route, 
and call it an " enduring object," such as a stone, 
or a leaf, or a man s life ? Still more, what 
could be the reason for the stability of types 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 187 

of society of actual entity in the reproduction of 
species ? 

According to the doctrine of the objectification 
of one actual entity into another which feels it as 
a stubborn fact, each actual entity as it perishes 
will be felt by the one immediately supervening. 
So its character will be reproduced by reason of 
a peculiarly close conformity of feeling. We 
thus have the inheritance of a common form 
through the prehension of the preceding mem 
bers by each member of the nexus as it arises. 
. ~- v - > A series of actual en 
tities of this kind is called a " strand," or 
enduring object. Ordinary physical objects and 
44 bodies " are such strands. We have the in 
heritance of a common form through a historic 
route of occasions. 1 If we interpret 4t form " 
in the Aristotelian sense, as meaning a certain 
type of structure organised for a certain end, 
we may notice an almost exact forecast of 
this view in Locke s section 2 on the Identity of 
Vegetables, which discusses how it is that a 
succession of fleeting particles of matter can be 
said to form the same tree. " That being then 
one plant which has such an organisation of parts 
in one coherent body, partaking of one common 

1 Cf. Russell, Analysis of Matter, p. 81, where a "material 
object " is described as a certain qualitative continuity in a string 
of events. 2 Essay, Bk. II., xxvii., 4. 



1 88 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

life, it continues to be the same plant as long as 
it partakes of the same life, though that life be 
communicated to new particles of matter vitally 
united to the living plant in a like continued 
organisation, conformable to that sort of plants." 
But this " partaking of the same life," if we do not 
look on the " life " or the formal structure as a 
mysterious something over and above the suc 
cession of actual entities (and to do so would 
break the Ontological Principle), we must say 
consists in the reproduction in the living imme 
diacy of the present actual entities of the character 
of the actual entities of the immediate past, which 
they felt as they arose, and so objectified in them 
selves. This is the sense in which we should 
take the statement 1 that u relatedness is wholly 
concerned with the appropriation of the dead by 
the living." So a nexus in the past with peculiar 
relevance to us may be called " our " past. I am 
an historic route of occasions culminating in the 
contemporary me. Such a route of historic oc 
casions is said to have serial or personal order. 
The point about this type of order is that each 
occasion inherits the dominating characteristic 
of the occasions on one side of it. Thus in the 
following diagram 2 A and B both inherit from the 
occasions on the left side of the cut xy in the 
strand, but from none on the right. 

1 Process and Reality, p. viii (ix). 3 See Fig. 7. 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 189 

The " enduring object " as a whole can then be 
said to sustain a character (the primary meaning of 
" person "). This character is inherited through 
out the whole of an historic route of occasions. 
(So, as Whitehead pleasantly puts it, we may 
define a " person " as one who inherits the 
wealth of all his relations.) But the notion of 
serial or personal order is extremely general, and 
nexus with this kind of personal order may of 
course be more and less complex. A simple type 



Y 
FIG. 7. 

of personal order is a single strand or " enduring 
object." But a complex type, such as any physical 
body, is a society of many such strands. If the 
nexus has what is called " social " order, each 
occasion in each strand inherits some of the 
dominating characteristics of the society, so that 
it can be said that the society as a whole sustains 
a character. If the society can be analysed into 
strands of enduring objects which have their 
own defining characteristics, the society is called 
44 corpuscular." A society may be more or less 
corpuscular, according to the relative importance 



190 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

of the defining characteristics of the strands which 
make it up, and of the nexus as a whole. 

The problem of repetition then becomes that 
of the inheritance by one actual entity of the charac 
ter of another, and this, according to the Onto- 
logical Principle, can only be by the objectifying 
of one actual entity into another by " feeling. 1 
We have to speak therefore at any rate to this 
extent of every actual entity as enjoying feeling 
and a subjective aim, if it be only that of con 
formity and reproduction. 

But the common characteristic of a nexus of 
actual entities, and so of what we called the plan 
of the society as a whole, depends upon the type 
of " order " which the actual entities composing 
it form. The concept of order is of course a 
fundamental one in mathematics, and it is probably 
its mathematical sense which Whitehead has in 
mind. Broadly speaking, this may be defined as 
a set of terms arranged in a certain way, so that 
the meaning of any term depends on its place 
in the series. So in the series of integers, which 
is a certain type of order, o has a different signi 
ficance in 10, and in 1,000, and in -01. There 
are a large number of different ways of arranging 
any finite number of things according to their 
permutations and combinations, but there is 
generally one way which is important for a 
particular purpose, and yields a particular result 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 

So when we say that a nexus of actual entities 
exhibits a type of order, we mean that the actual 
entities are arranged and organised in a certain 
way so that the whole is not a mere aggregate, 
but has a unified structure which gives it an 
interest as a whole; and that this depends on the 
many actual entities being interwoven by their 
prehensions of one another in just that way. 1 
A forest therefore displays a type of order, so 
does a gas, or a stone, or a government, or a man s 
life. 

A prejudice against speaking of " order " in 
this connection is due to our thinking that by 
" order " is meant something dull and tidy, out 
of which all life and spontaneity and creativeness 
has gone. Perhaps the word " pattern", which 

1 Since all apprehension implies selection, and so abstraction 
from a vaguely felt totality, those systematic relations of which 
we are aware in a complex of fact are simply those which for 
certain purposes it is important for us to notice (all attention, as 
W. James pointed out, depending on interest). But innumer 
able other types of relation may be being exemplified in the same 
complex. So Whitehead has made the interesting suggestion 
that all the different kinds of geometry may be exemplified in the 
physical universe, although for our purposes we are most con 
stantly aware of the Euclidean relational order. 

Cf. Russell, Analysis of Matter, pp. 5-6. " It is of course 
possible and even likely, that various different geometries, which 
would be incompatible if applied to the same set of objects, may 
all be applicable to the empirical world by means of different 
interpretations." 



WHJTJEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

is fashionable just now in philosophy and psy 
chology, helps to strengthen this prejudice. A 
pattern immediately suggests a static and dead 
morphology. Yet the true alternative to order 
is not creative life, or art, but chaos. So, White- 
head repeatedly insists, mere unbounded creat 
ivity can produce nothing. Actuality is always 
a limitation on pure creativity; and as soon as 
you have limitation, you have decision between 
alternatives, which means some kind of definite 
ordering. As the Pythagoreans saw long ago, 
the Limit is essential to Being. We may refer 
to the quotation from St. Augustine at the begin- 
ing of this chapter, where, in the spirit of Greek 
philosophy, he reminds us that " in so far as 
things attain to unity, they are." Any reflection 
on the beauty of form in art should assure us that 
order does not mean something dead and un 
imaginative. That fascinating study of "the 
ways of the imagination," John Livingstone 
Lowes The Road to Xanadu brings this out very 
clearly, in words which exactly express in 
literary what Whitehead is saying in philo 
sophical language. "For the Road to Xanadu 
... is the road of the human spirit, and the 
imagination voyaging through chaos and reducing 
it to clarity and order is the symbol of all the 
quests which lend glory to our dust. And the 
goal of the shaping spirit which hovers in the 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 193 

poet s brain is the clarity and order of pure beauty. 
Nothing is alien to its transforming touch. . . . 
Yet the pieces that compose the pattern are not 
new. In the world of the shaping spirit, save 
for its patterns, there is nothing new that was not 
old. For the work of the creators is the mastery, 
transmutation and reordering into shapes of beauty 
of the given universe within us and without us. 
The shapes thus wrought are not that universe; 
they are carved with figures strange and sweet, All 
made out of the carver s brain. Yet in that brain 
the elements and shattered fragments of the figures 
already lie, and what the carver-creator sees, implicit 
in the fragments, is the unique and lovely Form." 
Here again a misunderstanding or objection 
may be raised against such a use of the concept 
of " order." It may be said that such language 
implies the perception of a form or pattern, which 
we may perhaps even conceive as " laid up in 
heaven," which is then expressed in the given 
material, which is plastic in the hands of the 
artist creator. Whereas is not the truth, in 
creative living no less than in creative art, that we 
have a blind urge which is not clearly understood 
until it has found expression ? In Professor Alex 
ander s words, "Just as the object known is 
revealed through the ordinary reaction to it; 
so the work of art is revealed to the artist himself 
through the productive act wrung from him in 

13 



194 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

his excitement over the subject-matter. Accord 
ingly, he does not in general first form an image 
(if he is a poet, say) of what he wants to express, 
but finds out what he wanted to express by ex 
pressing it; he has, in general, no precedent 
image of his work, and does not know what he 
will say till he has said it, and it comes as a revela 
tion to himself." 1 But it may be pointed out that 
even so, if anything has been expressed, on looking 
back at it, it will be seen that a form, an order 
has shaped itself, though it may be one that the 
artist could not possibly have foreseen. There 
is a so-called " inevitability " about a work of art 
a play, for instance, or a symphony which is 
not inconsistent with its being unpredictable. 

Whitehead puts this point of view in his dis 
cussion of what he calls the " satisfaction " of 
an actual entity, and of a process of becoming 
as the transformation of incoherence into coher 
ence. The summary statement of this will be 
found in the first three Categorical Obligations, 
and the 26th and 27th Categories of Explana 
tion . They variously state that a complete under 
standing of the nature of an actual entity must 
wait until it has fully become. Then each partial 
phase in its process of becoming will be seen as 
contributing to the total result, in ^ which each 

1 Artistic and Cosmic Creation. Annual Philosophical Lecture 
to the British Academy, 1927. 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 195 

plays its own part, and no element is simply 
duplicated. So the final phase of the actual entity, 
when it has " achieved definiteness " shows its 
own reason for what it includes and what it omits. 
This can be illustrated by a picture. When it 
is complete, no line or feature could be added 
without upsetting the balance of the whole and 
making it no longer that picture. Similarly, 
Whitehead says, a concrescence must terminate 
in ** one determinate integral satisfaction." 

It may be suggested that we here have simply 
an echo of Idealist Logic, of the view of the real 
as the self-consistent individual. And in fact 
Whitehead makes the statement that " Logic is 
the general analysis of self-consistency," 1 i.e. 
the analysis of the factors in a " satisfaction " 
(the process called " co-ordinate division "). But 
there is a distinction. The Idealist view looks on 
the real as the self-consistent system of thought, 
so that the consistency of actuality is the same 
as logical consistency. Whitehead, on the dther 
hand, is starting from the end not of logic but of 
the becoming actuality. Consistency is some 
thing to be achieved when the actuality has fully 
become, and is not there all along for thought 
to understand. 2 But when the actuality has 

1 Process and Reality, p. 35 (39). 

2 This is underlined by the fact that Whitehead holds that 
there is a type of existence which he calls a " multiplicity," 



196 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

become, it is self-consistent in the sense that an 
understanding of it shows the reason for what it 
includes and what it excludes. Each part then 
contributes its full quota to the whole it might 
be described as an evepytla aveu SiW/zccos, a 
completely determinate activity. A good state 
ment of what is meant by the rational consistency 
of the real in this sense is made by Professor 
N. Kemp Smith. 1 " Under the conditions 
prescribed, a rationality or order appropriate to 
them, discloses itself; an order which is richer 
and more wonderful than any unassisted, that is 
dialectical reasoning could ever have anticipated, 
if called on to invent what it would desire to 
discover. It is for the universe on detailed study 
to reveal the kind of rationality which does in fact 
belong to it. ... What the rationalist can alone 
be required to stand for is the conviction that 
reality if known in all its details and all its manifold 
aspects will be found to justify itself in face of the 
claims to which it has given rise in any of its 
embodiments." 2 



which is described as a group of diverse entities given in dis 
junction. An example is the actual world from which a con 
crescence arises, regarded as an initial datum which has not yet 
been brought into a unity of prehension. 

1 University of California Publications in Philosophy, vol. iii. 

2 Cf. A. E. Taylor, The Faith of a Moralist, ii., p. 92, and 
especially his quotation from Sir Walter Raleigh s Shakespeare 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 197 

Reality might thus be defined as the final 
justification of experience. 1 This again suggests 
Absolute Idealism; but it should be noted that 
the Philosophy of Organism is an attempt to apply 
this principle to a pluralistic universe. In Ab 
solute Idealism, the Absolute may be its own 
reason for what it is, but it is the only actual 
entity. 

Moreover, Whitehead would agree with Leibniz, 
that self-consistent thought gives only the possible, 
whereas actuality is a " decision " among possi 
bilities, which therefore contains, as stubborn 
fact, an element of " givenness " the sufficient 
reason for which cannot be found by logical 
analysis alone. We may note that logical analysis 
of the actual entity is only possible when it has 
become, and is " objectively immortal "; and even 
thus the sufficient reason for its being that par 
ticular process of self-formation is only to be found 
in its subjective aim, which, he says, is grasped not 
by analysis but by intuition (in the Bergsonian 
sense). 

We may refer in this connection to the gth 
Categorical Obligation, which states that the 

1 A greater difficulty here, if we are to take process seriously, 
is our doubt as to whether things do achieve definiteness and 
coherence. We seem to see everywhere stunted, broken and 
incoherent growth. What may be said of this must wait to the 
last chapters. 



198 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

concrescence of each individual actual entity is 
internally determined and externally free. This 
internal determination is Professor Alexander s 
definition of freedom as " determination as en 
joyed." The nature of an actual entity cannot be 
fully predicted or understood from an analysis 
of its prehensions (so it is " externally free "); in 
analysing them "whatever is determinable is 
determined," but the final sufficient reason for the 
actual entity being what it is depends on its 
" decision," on the kick of emphasis, by emotion, 
appreciation, or purpose, which it gives its pre 
hensions, and this is determined by its internal 
subjective aim. Hence the insistent feeling of 
the responsibility of an actual entity for being 
what it is. This is illustrated from the course 
of history. 1 On looking back on it, we can see 
how one part leads out of another, and speak of 
it as internally determined. Yet no sufficient 
reason can be given externally to itself as to why 
it should have been that course of events rather 
than any other. We might venture on a similar 
speculation about the history of thought. In 
studying the history of thought, we see how 
certain questions were raised by the Greeks, and 
then how they led on to the kind of philosophical 
speculation we find in mediaeval, renaissance, and 
modern times. So there is a certain internal 

1 Process and Reality, p. 64 (74). 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 199 

determination of the dialectic of the history of 
thought. But supposing quite other questions 
had been raised suppose for instance the concept 
of Substance had never been formed might not 
our whole categories of thought, and the kind of dis 
cussion we indulge in, have been quite diffferent ? 
Let us turn now to the way in which Whitehead 
says cosmic creation is to be conceived, as the 
arising of definite types of order. In the first 
place we must bear in mind his insistence that 
sheer, blind creativity and unbounded potentiality 
between them could produce nothing. There 
would be no sufficient reason for any course of 
creation whatsoever. Therefore, like Leibniz, 
Whitehead holds that if we are to say that the realm 
of possibility is wider than the realm of actuality 
(as we must, if we are to avoid Spinoza s deter 
minism), we must say that there must be a primor 
dial limitation on pure creativity in virtue of 
which there is a sufficient reason for some (though, 
unlike Leibniz, Whitehead would not say for this 
specific) actual course of events. This is the sense 
in which God is said to be the Principle of Con 
cretion. Secondly, according to the Ontological 
Principle, the reason for this limitation is to be 
found in the nature of an actual entity. So, he 
argues, there must be a primordial created fact, 
which is a limitation on pure creativity. The 
theological and religious implications of this will 



2oo WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

be taken up and discussed in Chapter IX. All 
that we can do here is to note that the nature of 
this first limitation upon creativity will constitute 
the conditions laid upon any other process of 
becoming whatsoever, since, according to the 
doctrine of objective immortality, when it has 
become, it will be a stubborn fact for all other 
actualities. This is the sense in which we are 
to understand the statement that metaphysical 
principles are truths about the Primordial Nature 
of God. Since, according to the Ontological 
Principle, there can be no " laws " or " order " of 
nature apart from the characteristics of actual 
entities, when we wish to say anything about 
principles of complete generality, we must find 
the reasons for them in the Primordial Nature 
of God. This, then, is to be considered as the 
general character of order imposed on any course 
of creation whatsoever. Within the bounds of 
this, we come to other conditions of relatedness 
between actual entities. It must be remembered 
that actual entities are atomic, " decisions " amid 
potentiality. But if atomic actual entities are to 
display the types of stabilised structure which 
alone make possible the repetition and contrast 
which are essential for recognition (and so the 
condition of all science and observation), he holds 
that they must display certain systematic uniformi 
ties. This uniform scheme of relations is called 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 2OI 

the Extensive Continuum. It may be asked 
wherein it differs from the Primordial Nature of 
God, since if it were a systematic relatedness of 
potentialities apart from the nature of some actual 
entity, we should have a breach of the Ontological 
Principle. The answer must be that its general 
ity, though complete for the temporal world, is 
not as complete as that of the Primordial Nature 
of God, which holds for all possible worlds. So 1 
the Extensive Continuum " is not a fact prior to the 
world ; it is the first determination of order that 
is, of real potentiality arising out of the general 
character of the world." That is to say, it is the 
general scheme of relatedness displayed by the 
actual entities of all cosmic epochs of the world. 
Whitehead suggests that its properties are the 
relations of whole and part, overlapping and 
contact ; whereas the relations of metrical geometry, 
shapes, dimension and measurability, may not 
extend beyond our cosmic epoch. 

This means that he has to defend a view that 
the most general type of relation between events 
is that alluded to at the beginning of this chapter 
namely, their property of extending over other 
events; a relation called "extensive connection," 
in terms of which the more limited notion of 
" whole and part " can now be defined. 2 

1 Process and Reality, p. 92 (103). 

2 Process and Reality, pp. 408-409 (440-442). 



2O2 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

So we start from a view of nature as exclusively 
made up of events, or nexus of actual entities 
(whichever terminology we prefer); 1 and say that 
one event has the property of extending over other 
events. Thus the event which is all nature during 
a minute extends over the event which is all nature 
during 30 seconds; or, if we wish to avoid bringing 
in the notion of a duration, we can say that one 
event extends over another when every region 
(i.e. event which is a relatum of extensive con 
nection) included in region B is also connected 
with region A. Region B may then be called 
" part " of region A. 2 

Therefore, starting from events and their 

1 In the description of the passage of nature as a " continuum 
of events " an " event " would have to be taken, in the light 
of his present view of atomic actual entities, as a nexus of actual 
entities, which can overlap others and so be extensively connected 
with them. 

2 Process and Reality, Pt. IV., ch. ii., p. 419 (452). It is 
impossible here to go into the very interesting developments of 
the notion of extensive connection which Whitehead makes in 
this chapter, as a result of adopting Professor de Laguna s sug 
gestion of the substitution of the notion of extensive connection 
for that of extensive whole and extensive part. It enables him 
to define the notions of mediate connection, overlapping, external 
and tangential connection, as well as the example I have selected 
of " inclusion," in terms of extensive connection. In spite of 
a very insufficient grasp of the notions involved, I can see that 
this chapter is one of the most valuable,and likely to be one of 
the most permanently satisfactory, in Process and Reality. 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 2O3 

property of extensive connection, Whitehead has 
to show how their other systematic uniformities 
can be derived from this, and particularly those 
uniformities called spatial and temporal relations. 
This he does by his famous Method of Extensive 
Abstraction. It will not be possible to discuss 
this in any detail ; a full exposition is to be found 
in the Principles of Natural Knowledge, and The 
Concept of Nature, chs. iii. and iv. ; and a clear 
shorter exposition of the fundamental principle 
involved, in his Aims of Education, ch. ix. (" The 
Anatomy of Some Scientific Ideas ").* 

Briefly, we may say that the Method of Exten 
sive Abstraction is a description of the way in 
which we may search for the " forms in the facts " ; 
that is to say, how, starting from concrete events, 
we may find that they display systematic characters 
which can be expressed in terms of universals. 
So we can look on space and time not as a frame 
work within which events take place, but as uni 
form relations displayed by concrete events in 
their " passage." Then what do we mean by 
instants of time and points in space ? A concrete 
event is all nature throughout a certain duration. 
This may be conceived as extending over the event 
which is nature throughout a shorter duration, 
and this over another event, and so on. Such a 

1 The Alms of Education and Other Essays, pp. 205 sq. 
(London, 1929). 



2O4 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

series of events with temporal extension may be 
conceived as covering each other, like a nest of 
Chinese boxes packed one inside the other. The 
series we might say converges not to a smallest 
box, but to an ideal limit, which would be nature 
without temporal extension, i.e. at an instant 
of time. But Whitehead says that to call the 
point or the instant the " ideal limit " of the con 
verging abstractive set is really meaningless. It 
is not the proper meaning of " limit " in a mathe 
matical series ; in fact an " ideal limit " is really 
nothing at all. To call it a fiction is no better, 
since he holds that " fiction " is simply an ambigu 
ous term which fails to say whether there is any 
important fact or relation in nature to which what 
are called points and instants correspond. Here 
he is conservative, compared with modern mathe 
maticians, like Poincare for instance, who are 
perfectly content with the notion of fictions. 
Whitehead continually, as we have seen, insists 
that science and mathematics must be saying 
something important about some actual or possible 
systematic connection within nature, or they are 
a mere day-dream. So if the elements we call 
points are not the " ideal limits " of the converging 
abstractive sets, we must say they are the route 
of convergence of the whole set. A geometrical 
element, such as a point, is therefore defined as the 
" group of routes of approximation to a definite 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 



205 

intrinsic character of ideal simplicity, to be found 
as a limit among natural facts." 1 The important 
point to notice is that the element itself is the whole 
class of abstractive sets with the same convergent 





FIG. SA. 



FIG. SB. 



character. So a point is defined both by the set 
in Fig. 8 A, and by the set in Fig. SB. 

The discussions of the different kinds of 
abstractive sets, and their relations to each other. 




FIG. 9. 

defining the different abstractive elements is of 
extreme interest. It is to be found in the passages 
referred to in the Principles of Natural Knowledge, 
and The Concept of Nature ; and Whitehead s 

1 Concept of Nature, p. 84. 



206 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

latest developments of it are to be found in Process 
and Reality > Pt. IV. Perhaps the most interesting 
of these is the definition of a straight line in terms 
of an abstractive set of ovals, and so purely in 
terms of the relation of extensive connection 
between regions, and without recourse to the more 
special notion of measurement (see Fig. 9). 

These discussions cannot be pursued further 
here, nor would there be any profit in simply 
reproducing what must be studied in Whitehead s 
own books. But the points I have wished to 
bring out are: 

(a) The extreme importance of the notion of 
extensive connection for the Philosophy of Or 
ganism. It enables him to hold to the Ontological 
Principle, and yet to express the most complex 
mathematical notions in terms of abstractions 
arrived at from systematic relations between 
actual entities in a nexus. 

(fr) That this implies a relational view of space 
and time, as deducible from the mutual relations 
of diverse processes of becoming. 1 Uniform 
space and time are arrived at by a method of 
abstraction from the relations between concrete 
events, occupying " slabs of duration," 2 and in 
volving their own spatial and temporal systems. 

1 See the essay " Space, Time and Relativity " at the end of 
the Aims of Education (especially p. 244). 

2 Cf. supra p. 178. 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 2OJ 

(c) That this appeal to a systematic uniformity 
expressible in the relations of the Extensive 
Continuum is, Whitehead holds, essential if there 
is to be any justification of scientific generalisation, 
i.e. of Induction, or of measurement. 

Induction demands an analogy between things 
which have been observed, and things not 
observed. If we are to assume that the evidence 
we have got about nature can in any respect point 
the same way as the evidence we have not got, 
we must appeal to some systematic characters 
common to both the facts known and those 
unknown. We may compare Mr. Keynes 
" Principle of the Limitation of Variety." The 
justification of Induction, he says, 1 depends on 
the assumption " that the objects in the field, 
over which our generalisations extend, do not 
have an infinite number of independent qualities, 
that, in other words, their characteristics, how 
ever numerous, cohere together in groups of 
invariable connection which are finite in number." 

That is the basis of Whitehead s contention 
that all Induction is statistical. If statistical 
generalisation is to be of any value in forecasting 
e.g. if from the number of births in a country over 
a period of years we can estimate the probable 
number next year we must be able to appeal to 
a stability of the general conditions of the en- 
1 A Treatise on Probability (London, 1921), p. 256. 



208 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

vironment; and to certain conditions as relevant, 
and others as irrelevant, to the statistical generalis 
ation. So he holds that a metaphysic which 
exhibits the universe as systematic, and also as 
dissectible into partial systems with degrees of 
mutual relevance, is essential to the justification 
of Induction. And a similar assumption is neces 
sary for the justification of measurement, which 
is fundamental to science. Whitehead shows 
that measurement depends upon Congruence 
i.e. upon the judgment of an identity of function 
within a systematic complex of relations. Even 
if we allow that scientific measurement is only 
approximate, the notion of an ideal exactness to 
which it approximates presupposes that our in 
struments will remain to a certain extent constant 
when transferred from one thing to another; that 
one inch along the length of a measuring rod will 
perform a similar function to the next inch. We 
may be told that developments of the theory of 
relativity, the hypothesis of the FitzGerald con 
tractions, and so on, make all this appeal to system 
atic uniformities in nature, implied in measurement 
of the physical field, unduly conservative. But 
it may be observed that even distortions such as 
the FitzGerald contractions are supposed to have 
a certain systematic regularity about them. 

Whitehead contends that unless there be uni 
formities underlying our actual fragmentary ex- 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 2O9 

periences they could not " sustain that connected 
infinite world in which in our thoughts we live." 1 
Here again, we may say, he is making the old 
assumption which Kant challenged, that what is a 
necessity for thought is also a necessity for things. 
Miss Stebbing, in her paper " Mind and Nature 
in Professor Whitehead s Philosophy " 2 pointed out 
the anomaly in Whitehead s using an argument 
from " the necessity for knowledge that there be 
a system of uniform relatedness " 3 in a Naturphilo- 
sophie which, at that time, definitely held that 
Nature was closed to mind. Now that Whitehead 
includes epistemology in his wider metaphysic, 
such an argument is less anomalous. But does it 
really help much, beyond showing that the justifi 
cation of Induction and measurement, and the 
assumption of a systematic uniformity in nature, 
stand and fall together ? 4 He can however very 
plausibly urge that an appeal to a dominant 
and uniform space-time continuum is implied 
in our distinction of veridical from dream, or 
illusory, experience; and even implied by Hume, 

1 " Space, Time and Relativity," in the Aims of Education 9 
p. 246. 2 Mind, July, 1924. 

3 See Principle of Relativity, p. 29. 

4 So Russell remarks (The Analysis of Matter, p. 79), 
" Dr. Whitehead s view seems to rest upon the assumption that 
the principles of scientific inference ought in some way to be 
* reasonable. " Russell does not consider this a sufficient 
ground for rejecting Einstein s geometry of a variable space. 



2io WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

when he speaks of " the connection of contiguity 
in time and place. 1 1 

He might also answer that, if he appeals to an 
assumption of " the uniformity of the texture of 
experience," at any rate he does so openly, and 
claims that, as in any case we do have measure 
ment and observation, and scientific reasoning 
by Induction and Analogy, we may as well own 
openly the metaphysic which a justification of this 
implies. 2 And if the assumption be false, we 
must give up the hope that science can ever aim 
to afford 

" a support 
Not treacherous to the mind s excursive power." 

We must now return to his view of what is 
implied in the more special concept of the order 
of nature. Again, in accordance with the Onto- 
logical Principle, there can be no " laws of nature " 
externally imposing order on actual entities. The 
reason for the laws must be found in the character 
of actual entities. So within the general system 
of the metaphysical conditions found in the 
Primordial Nature of God, and of the relatedness 

1 Cf. Whitehead s the Presidential Address to the Aristotelian 
Society (1922), " Uniformity and Contingency," Proceedings 
of the Aristotelian Society, vol. xxiii., especially pp. 6-8. 

2 Cf. Aims of Education, p. 246. "The fact that immediate 
experience is capable of this deductive superstructure must mean 
that it itself has a certain uniformity of texture." 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 211 

of the world found in the character of the Extensive 
Continuum, we have what are called " laws of 
nature," as descriptions of the dominant character 
istics of wide societies of actual entities. Such 
types of societies of actual entities may arise and 
decay, and so we get what Whitehead calls different 
" cosmic epochs," or dominant types of cosmic 
order. Our cosmic epoch is characterised by star- 
systems, and electro-magnetic events, but this 
may not be metaphysically necessary. 

Within a cosmic epoch we also get the arising 
and decaying of countless more special types of 
order. This view clearly does not regard what 
is loosely called the process of evolution as 
single and unilateral. Nor does it support the 
notion of a " progress " towards " one far-off 
divine event To which the whole creation moves," 
as it were en bloc. Instead, we have to conceive 
of the creative process as the gradual building 
up and decaying of innumerable types of order. 
Spengler s morphology of history suggests an 
analogy, drawn from a special field. But the 
analogy is misleading, since Spengler tries to 
prove that all the morphological growths of 
civilizations conform to the same pattern, and 
he looks on this as a metaphysical necessity. In 
Whitehead s cosmology, the types of order which 
arise and decay depend on the dominant character 
istics of the entities which build them up. There 



212 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

is no reason why one order should be better or 
worse than the last, unless perhaps we might say 
that, from having the opportunity of building as it 
were upon the ruins of its predecessors, one epoch 
may achieve a subtler type of order than another. 
In this sense, possibly, we might speak of " pro 
gress," not as a metaphysical necessity, but as made 
possible through the types of order in the world 
building upon each other. 

So what are called the u laws of nature " are 
dominant characteristics inherited over wide 
societies of actual entities. They describe the 
prevailing ways in which actual entities objectify 
themselves in each other, and so are in the solidarity 
of one world. This fits in with the prevalent view 
of the laws of nature as statistical; that is to say, 
as average predominating characteristics of wide 
groups of entities. This allows for individual 
variation along with general uniformity within the 
society, and also for the laws of nature to arise and 
decay with cosmic epochs of the world. It also 
allows an interaction between the character of 
individual actual entities and the character of the 
society in which they find themselves. So actual 
entities reproduce the characters of the society in 
which they arise and which they prehend we thus 
get the conformity which can be looked on both as 
cause and effect of the stability of types of order 
in nature; and we get the possibility of a new 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 213 

emphasis of feeling which makes for the transition 
to new types of order. 1 

Each society of actual entities demands the 
system of the Extensive Continuum in its back 
ground, but it clearly involves some of the other 
societies of the world more closely than others, 
and some so remotely for the connection to be 
irrelevant and negligible for instance, societies 
belonging to other cosmic epochs with totally 
different defining characteristics. Its own so- 
called " causal laws " are the reproduction through 
out a series of its own members of its dominant 
kind of feeling. So the problem of the unity of 
a society of actual entities becomes one of its type 
of organisation perhaps we might say, a con 
stitutional problem. By a " society " is meant a 
nexus of actual entities which is self-sustaining, 
and relatively independent of other societies. 

1 This interaction between the character of an actual entity 
and that of the society in which it arises is stated in the Categorical 
Obligation called " The Category of Subjective Harmony." 
This states that there is a harmony between the prehending 
subject and the data prehended. Neither can be abstracted 
from the other. The subject is what it is because of the data 
from which it arises ; but the way in which it feels them depends 
on its being the kind of concrescence it is. This is because all 
actualities are highly selective. They prehend only an infini 
tesimal number of all the eternal objects characterising their 
environment, and these with positive and negative degrees of 
emphasis, in accordance with their " subjective aim." 



214 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

So we may talk of a star-cluster as a society; or a 
mountain, a forest, a man s body, a college. 

We have a unity of the society as a whole. But 
the society only lives and acts in its members; 
for instance, all the life in the body is in the millions 
of individual cells. The " life of the body " as 
a whole comes from the way in which these cells 
are integrated together, in its "real internal 
constitution." So Whitehead points out that 
what needs explanation, the miracle of a living 
organism, is not dissociation, but unified control. 
We are apt to look on dissociated personality as 
abnormal, and as needing explanation ; yet the ex 
planation we really need is how millions of differ 
ent centres of experience can be so organised that 
there is a unity of experience. He also points 
out that there are centres of reaction in the body 
which are not the centres of unified experience; 
for instance a heart can go on beating, with proper 
stimulants, outside the body. Worms and jelly 
fish are very little centralised. " The living body 
is a co-ordination of high grade actual occasions; 
but in a living body of a low type the occasions 
are much nearer to a democracy. In a living 
body of a high type there are grades of occasions so 
co-ordinated by their paths of inheritance through 
the body, that a peculiar richness of inheritance 
is enjoyed by various occasions in some parts 
of the body. Finally the brain is co-ordinated 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 215 

so that a peculiar richness of inheritance is enjoyed 
now by this and now by that part; and thus there 
is produced the presiding personality at that 
moment in the body. Owing to the delicate 
organisation of the body there is a returned in 
fluence, an inheritance of character derived from 
the presiding occasion and modifying the sub 
sequent occasions through the rest of the body." 1 
We may notice, in this notion of a "presiding 
personality " at any moment in the body, a view of 
the relation of the body and mind not far removed 
from that of Leibniz. The " mind " monad is 
that member of a group which perceives the other 
monads, which are called its body, most clearly. 
So the idea of the " interaction of mind and body " 
becomes the extremely general idea of a highly 
complex structure of actual entities in which there 
may be a presiding occasion which is "the final 
node, or intersection " of the structure, and which 
therefore enjoys a centralised control, a peculiar 
richness of inheritance from the other occasions 
of the nexus, and a peculiar fertility of appetition 
in its mental pole. This may be objectified into 
a succeeding " presiding occasion," in which case 
we can speak of a continuity of consciousness. 
In sleep, or illness, the control of a presiding 
occasion is relaxed, and the degree of centralisation 
in the organism is less complete. 

1 Process and Reality, p. 152 (166). 



2i6 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

We may note also that since all actual entities 
are dipolar, the idea of a " living " body is a special 
form of the general idea of an enduring object, 
which is a genetic character inherited through an 
historic route of actual occasions. Some such 
routes form what we call inorganic material bodies. 
Their characteristic is unoriginality, since each 
new actual occasion is simply reproductive of the 
character of the actual occasion behind. More 
over the nexus displays an average general charac 
ter, which blots out unwelcome details of deviation. 
Thus the character of a " material body " is simply 
the reiteration of the same pattern through a 
succession of events. But at the stage called 
41 organic " or " living," there is some origination 
of conceptual feeling. This means that some 
elements in the environment are emphasised and 
objectified by the prehending occasions into 
themselves in a way which promotes the unified 
life of their structured society. An example of 
this would be the metabolism of food. 

So it is said that primarily life comes with the 
origination of conceptual prehension, a novelty of 
appetition to match novelty of the environment. 
A " living " body therefore has the property of 
adaptability, as well as of persistence. A nexus of 
actual entities may be more or less living, at differ 
ent periods of its historic route, or some occasions 
of the nexus may be living and others non-living. 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 217 

But life is, in Whitehead s vivid phrase, a " clutch 
at novelty." We may recall the passage in The 
Function of Reason. 1 In the burning desert, a 
" living " organism will feel thirst and search to 
satisfy it; a stone will be baked and dry. 

A notice of the extraordinarily subtle way in 
which Whitehead discusses the problem of the 
balance of stability and adaptability in " living " 
organisms, in its context of the whole question of 
depth of order as the right relation of narrowness 
and width, vagueness and definiteness, complexity 
of contrast and massive simplicity, must wait for 
our last chapters. We can only notice in passing 
that he shows how a progressive order is always a 
balance on the verge of chaos. It is to be realised, 
and then transcended, but not stabilised. There 
are times when adaptability matters more than 
immediate security. The originative element 
we call " life " comes from a sense, probably a 
blind sense, of an infinitude of unrealised possi 
bilities; and this may just bring in the right new 
feeling which is the dawn of a new order. He 
develops the idea that depth or intensity of order 
depends on the capacity to hold together diverse 
elements in experience as contrasts, instead of 
dismissing them as incompatibilities. It is the 
razor edge between the dismissal of contrasts in 
favour of stable, if trivial, uniformity, and their 
1 P. 72. 



218 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

admission at the cost of the disintegration of the 
organism. 

It seems, on a wide view, as though the dominant 
types of order in societies of actual entities reached 
a climax, and then petered out. The organisation 
of the society becomes less complex, and more dif 
fused, its defining characteristics less important. 1 
The law of entropy would be an application of 
this. Whitehead says that it looks as though the 
type of order we call the " physical " order of our 
cosmic epoch was wasting in this way. But at 
the end both of The Function of Reason and of 
Religion in the Making, he throws out the sugges 
tion, which we should like him to develop further, 
that in what we call " reason " the disciplined 
development of the originative urge of the mental 
pole, we may have the counter-tendency, which 
can build up the new type of order, which might 
arise out of the decay of the physical order. Let 
us recall the passage in Religion in the Making? 

" The passage of time is the journey of the 
world towards the gathering of new ideas into 
actual fact. This adventure is upwards and down 
wards. Whatever ceases to ascend, fails to pre 
serve itself and enters upon its inevitable path 
of decay. It decays by transmitting its nature 
to slighter occasions of actuality, by reason of the 

1 Process and Reality, p. 49 (53-54). 

2 P. 159- 



CREATIVITY AND ORDER 219 

failure of the new forms to fertilize the perceptive 
achievements which constitute its past history. 
The universe shows us two aspects: on the one 
side it is physically wasting, on the other side it 
is spiritually ascending. It is thus passing with 
a slowness, inconceivable in our measures of time, 
to new creative conditions, amid which the physical 
world, as we at present know it, will be represented 
by a ripple barely to be distinguished from non 
entity. 

" The present type of order in the world has 
arisen from an unimaginable past, and it will find 
its grave in an unimaginable future. There 
remain the inexhaustible realm of abstract forms 
and creativity with its shifting character ever 
determined afresh by its own creatures, and God, 
upon whose wisdom all forms of order depend." 

It is impossible to read this passage without 
emotion; and perhaps without a deeper emotion 
of loyalty to the unknown possibilities of the 
unknown order of the reign of Reason. 



CHAPTER VIII 

COSMIC, ETHICAL AND AESTHETIC ORDER IN THE 
AND IN WHITEHEAD s PHILOSOPHY 



Without the Vision, the chaos of elements remains a chaos, 
and the Form sleeps for ever in the vast chambers of unborn 
designs. Yet in that chaos only could creative vision ever see 
this Form. Nor without the co-operant Will, obedient to the 
Vision, may the pattern perceived in the huddle attain objective 
reality. J. L. LOWES, The Road to Xanadu. 

THAT striking analogies can be drawn between 
WhiteheacTs cosmology (as suggested in his 
earlier books, such as The Concept of Nature and 
The Principles of Natural Knowledge) and that of 
the Tim*us has been pointed out by A. E. Taylor 
first in his Plato, the Man and his Work? and then 
in more detail in his Commentary on the Tim^us? 
All I wish to do in this chapter is to recall some 

1 Pp- 455456. 

2 A Commentary on Plato s Timeeus (Oxford, 1927), 
Taylor s suggested analogies between the cosmology of the 
Tim&us and that of Whitehead can be evaluated quite apart 
from the hypothesis which underlies his Commentary namely, 
that the Timeeus gives us not Plato s own views, but those 
of a fifth-century Pythagorean. This is a hypothesis to be 
estimated on its merits; it is certainly interesting and original, 
but is, to say the least, highly controversial. The reception it 
is likely to receive is perhaps indicated by the review in Af/W, 

220 



" TIM-dEUS " AND WHITEHEAD s PHILOSOPHY 22 I 

of the interesting comparisons which Taylor 
draws, and try to develop his suggestions rather 
further as a result of the fuller data Whitehead 
has given us in Process and Reality. 

Whitehead himself acknowledges 1 that the 
line of thought he develops in his cosmology is 
close to that suggested in the Tim*us. The 
underlying notion in both is the view of creation 
as the emergence of a type of order out of 
a primordial indetermination. 2 Moreover, to 
Whitehead, as to Plato, the cause for the initial 
incoming of order into mere creativity is the 
44 goodness of God," and His " choice of the best." 
We should not probably push this analogy too 
far since, as I have pointed out, to Whitehead 
44 God " (at any rate as restricted to the context 
of his metaphysical system) is a strictly defined 
philosophical notion, whereas Plato in the Tim<eus 

January, 1929 (by G. C. Field), and by Shorey s paper, " Recent 
Interpretations of the Timaeus, " in Classical Philology, Octo 
ber, 1928. 

1 Process and Reality, pp. ix, 113 (126), 129-134 (142-147). 

2 It is not relevant to Whitehead s cosmology to discuss 
whether Plato s view implies a belief in matter as an antecedent 
state of chaos out of which the world was created (which is 
generally stated to be the Greek view, as distinguished from the 
Hebrew and Christian view of creation out of nothing). The 
aspect of the picture given in the Tim<eus which Whitehead 
develops is the view of creation as the gradual incoming of a type 
of rational order into the merely general possibility of relatedness- 



222 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

is speaking largely in the language of myth. The 
exact place of the Demiourgos of the Tim<eus 
in Plato s metaphysic is a well-known problem. 
Perhaps Plato did not mean (some may possibly 
say, with Professor Shorey, that he was too wise) 
to give Him a defined place in a system; and it 
would be rash to draw too close a comparison 
between His creation of the universe looking to 
the form of the avrb o eon <3oi> and White- 
head s Primordial Nature of God as the envisage- 
ment of the realm of eternal objects potential for 
realisation in the process of creation. But never 
theless (as I suggested above) the same general 
idea underlies both. The reason that there 
should be a " process of becoming " at all is to be 
looked for in the u goodness of God," 1 that is to 
say, in the ultimate limitation upon mere " creati 
vity " in virtue of which there can be possibilities 
for the rise of determinate processes; and as 
necessary to explain why these show a gradual 
approximation to more subtle types of order. 2 

1 We must of course guard against too quickly drawing 
ethical and religious conclusions from phrases such as this. No 
doubt in the long run some such conclusions are justified ; but 
we must remember that its primary meaning was probably 
nearer to the Anaxagorean vovs namely, the principle of 
order and rationality. 

2 Cf. Tim&us, 39^, where the " sufficient reason " of creation 
is said to be iW ro S* (; .*. this universe) cos ofjioiorarov y TM 

KO.I VOI/TU! fu>(j) 7r/o5s ryv rfjs 



AND WHITEHEADS PHILOSOPHY 223 

A. E. Taylor has pointed out the analogy 
between WhiteheacTs view of the ultimate sub 
stantial activity of nature, " passage " (or 
" creativity " as he calls it in Science and the 
Modern World^ and in Process and Reality) and 
the doctrine of the Tim<eus of the V7ro8ox>) 
yeueVews the " matrix of becoming," which is 
purely indetermined potentiality, able to become 
determinate through the " ingression " of the 
forms. He well points out that we have an 
almost verbal parallel in Tim^eus 50^ to White- 
head s conception of the " passage " of nature. 
The identification of the vTroSo^ ycj>eo"G)s 
with x<*>P a (Space), besides of course its analogy, 
which has been often pointed out, with the Car 
tesian identification of matter and extension, 
presents a still closer parallel to Whitehead s view 
of the Extensive Continuum 2 as " the most 
general scheme of real potentiality providing the 



JOC. K/jiaye?oi> yap <ixri iravr KCITCU, KLVOV- 

T /Cat 8taCT)^tJfJLaTL^6p.VOV Virb TWV CtCriOVTOUl/, (>a6VTU6 

5e Si* Ktva aAAore dA,A,otoj/* TO, 6e etortovra KOU c^toi/ra TWV 
UVTWV act /Aip//xa/ra, TvirtoOevra aTT 1 avrwv rpoirov rii a 8v(r<f>pa- 
CTTOI/ Kal QavpacTTov : " For it is there as a natural matrix for 
all things, moved and variously figured by the things that enter 
it, but through their agency takes on divers appearances at 
divers times. But the things that enter and leave it are copies 
of the eternal things, moulded upon them in an obscure and 
wondrous fashion " (Taylor s translation). 
2 Process and Reality* Pt. II., ch. ii. 



224 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

background for all other organic relations," or 
the " one relational complex in which all potential 
objectifications find their niche," which " under 
lies the whole world, past, present and future." 
But we must make two important qualifications : 

(a) The Extensive Continuum is not merely 
characterless and structureless " creativity." It is 
characterised by the most complete generalities 
which can determine creativity and underlie the 
possibility for the emergence of any type of order 
whatsoever, and which he suggests are the rela 
tions of whole and part, overlapping and contact. 
" In its full generality beyond the present epoch, 
it does not involve shapes, dimensions and 
measurability; these are additional determinations 
of real potentiality arising from our cosmic 
epoch." 

() We should beware of ascribing to Plato 
in the Tim<eus the " relational " view of Space, as 
defining possible and actual forms of relatedness 
between events, which is implied in Whitehead s 
view of the Extensive Continuum. I am inclined 
to think that Taylor, in his claim that Plato s view 
implies that x^/ a * s simply to be defined in terms 
of the " events " which come to pass in it, is too 
ready to claim that Plato has foreseen the modern 
view. He does however guard himself with the 
remark 1 that it " would be unhistorical to credit 

1 Commentary, p. 349. 



"TIM-US " AND WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY 225 

either Timaeus or Plato with the origination of 
the theory of relativity on the strength of 
such a coincidence." The x^P a ^ ^ e Tim*us 
seems to be a conception whose full generality 
has not yet been disentangled from what are 
perhaps largely empirical and mythological 
elements. This, however, should not make us 
underestimate the genius and insight of Plato s 
conception. 1 

The emergence of characters in the physical 
world needs besides xwpa, which is formless and 
structureless, the oz/ra or eternal objects through 
whose ingression it becomes characterised into 
a process of becoming (yeVcorts). Here again 

1 It may be useful here to touch on the simikr resemblance 
which Taylor sees between the conception of Time in the Tim&u* 
and modern relational views (cf. his Appendix to his Commentary, 
pp. 678 sq ., " The Concept of Time in the Tim&us "). Here again 
we must beware of reading modern notions into Plato, but we may 
say that Taylor has well shown the fortunate insight which made 
Plato hold that Time came into being along with the Cosmos, 
and so is nothing apart from the processes of events which come 
to pass in it. Of course, as he well says, Plato cannot be credited 
with foreseeing Whitehead s view of different " slabs " of be 
coming, and nexus of events involving different time systems. 
But his famous definition of Time as " the moving image of 
eternity " (CIKWI/ Ktvrjrbs ai<3i>os), i.e. as a description of 
the way in which " eternal objects " are actualised in the process 
of the world of becoming, obviously suggests Whitehead s view. 
(See Whitehead s use of this phrase in Process and Reality, p. 476 

[SHI). 

is 



226 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

Taylor has pointed out the obvious analogy, in 
fact almost verbal correspondence, with White- 
head s view. He suggests moreover 1 that this 
view of the becoming of temporal actualities 
through the ingression of forms is to be connected 
with the view in Philebus 25-26, of temporal 
actualities as yei/ecrets et$ overtax/, i.e. processes 
of development, or approximation towards a 
certain right proportion. He interprets this as 
meaning that the processes in the world of be 
coming are approximating to a law of structure. 
When they have " become," they will embody it 
perfectly. If this elucidation of the Tim<eus from 
the rather different doctrine of " becoming " in 
the Philebus is justified, we can see a still more 
striking analogy to Whitehead s view. To him, 
the whole meaning of a " process of becoming " 
is that it is an attempt to realise a certain " satis 
faction " or " form of definiteness," and when this 
definiteness has been achieved, we may say that 
the actual entity in question has " become." 
Since it is then fully determinate, it answers every 
question about itself. This would seem to be 
very much the kind of view of the nature of a 
process of becoming suggested by Plato s phrase 
yeVecrts cts overtax, and the determinate actual 
entity would be a ycye^jtxeV^ overt a. 2 

1 See his note on Tim&us 31^ 3, and 35^ 1-3 ; also Plato, 
p. 415. 2 Phitebus,2jb. 



"TIM^EUS" AND WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY 227 

It is also interesting to note how, in the view 
of yeVco-is as an "approximation to a law of 
structure," Whitehead and Plato (or at any rate 
the speaker in the Tim<eus) are akin in their 
interest in mathematical types of order. Accord 
ing to the Tim<eus, since the primaeval " stuff," the 
woSox^, is extension, the forms of structure 
realised in it will be geometrical, and the speaker 
(according to Taylor s interpretation) is trying to 
go behind the four " roots " of the Ionian cosmo- 
logists, and show that the difference of the qualities 
of the " roots " themselves depend on their 
geometrical structure. In commenting on the 
cosmology of the Tim<eus, Whitehead finds the 
reason for saying that it supplements Newton s 
Scholium in philosophic depth in the fact that the 
Tim<eus " connects behaviour with the ultimate 
molecular characters of the actual entities," and 
" accounted for the sharp-cut differences be 
tween kinds of natural things by assuming an 
approximation of the molecules of the fundamental 
kinds respectively to the mathematical forms of 
the regular solids." 1 That is to say that he is 
noting with approval, and joining hands with the 
Tim<eus in the view suggested there, that the 
differences and determinations of things are the 
results of the dominant types of structure they 
display, and that these types of structure can be 
1 Process and Reality, pp. 131 (144), 132 (145). 



228 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

reduced to simpler mathematical ratios, although 
of course the " higher " kinds of societies of 
actual entities involve more and more complex 
harmonies of sub - societies with interwoven 
structure. But this simply means that we find 
more and more intricate types of organisation 
of the simpler ratios, involving more and more 
complex possibilities of relatedness. 

A way in which we can conceive of this 
" hierarchised " view of the world, as involving 
various orders superimposed upon each other, is 
suggested by A. E. Taylor in The Faith of a 
Moralist, i., pp. 360-361, in words that obviously 
recall Whitehead. " The whole complex pattern 
of the one world in which we live and have our 
being is made up of the most varied strands. 
And it is not simply a pattern with many and 
various strands; it is a pattern whose constitutive 
elements are themselves patterns, reproducing, in 
varying degrees of fullness and distinctness, the 
characteristic pattern of the whole; and this is 
why we can speak of the pattern of the whole as 
<z//-pervasive, though more clearly discernible in 
some of the sub-patterns than in others." 

In an article on " Dr. Whitehead s Philosophy 
of Religion" in the Dublin Review, July, 1927, 
Taylor also approaches the interpretation of 
Whitehead from this point of view, and defines 
an organism as "a whole with a characteristic 



"TIM-<BUS" AND WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY 229 

pattern of its own which repeats itself in the 
sub-patterns of its constituent parts." 

We may again refer to Whitehead s chapter on 
" Rhythms " at the end of the Principles of Natural 
Knowledge. " There are gradations of rhythm. 
The more perfect rhythm is built upon component 
rhythms. A subordinate part with crystalline ex 
cess of pattern or with foggy confusion weakens 
the rhythm. Thus every great rhythm pre 
supposes lesser rhythms without which it could 
not be." 

Whitehead s view of the complexity of the 
cosmic order would of course differ greatly from 
the comparatively simple conception in the Tim<eus. 
But the underlying notion common to both is the 
view of " creation " as the gradual emergence 
of types of order through " peaceful penetration " 
by the rational, or, as it is expressed in Tim<eus 
, 1 the gradual persuasion of di>ay/o; by 



1 " For indeed the generation of this our world came about 
from a combination of necessity with understanding, but under 
standing overruled necessity by persuading her to conduct the 
most part of the effects to the best issue ; thus, then, and on this 
wise was this universe compacted in the beginning by the victory 
of reasonable persuasion over necessity ; whence if a man would 
tell the tale of the making truly, he must bring the errant cause 
also into the story " (Taylor s translation). The force of the 
vivid phrase TrAavw/icv?; ourt a for ai/ay/c?/, as the arbitrary 
element in things, is in some measure retained in Archer-Hind s 
translation " Cause Errant." 



230 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

I/OV5. Taylor is surely right in interpreting 
avayKV) here as the contingent, arbitrary element 
involved in the process of becoming. In White- 
head s system this, pushed as far back as it will 
go, would be creativity, the ultimate substantial 
activity, for which no reason outside itself can 
be given. His description of its determination 
through participation in the forms corresponds to 
the " persuasion of dvay/o? by i/ovs-" 

But here is a point which needs making clear. 
Whitehead quotes 1 Taylor s statement, from 
Plato, p. 455, (and the same idea appears passim 
in the Commentary on the Tim<eiis) that " In the 
real world there is always, over and above * law , 
a factor of the * simply given, or brute fact, 
not accounted for, and to be accepted simply as 
given. It is the business of science never to 
acquiesce in the merely given, to seek to * explain 
it as the consequence, in virtue of rational law, 
of some simpler initial * given. But however 
far science may carry this procedure, it is always 
forced to retain some element of brute fact, the 
merely given, in its account of things. It is the 
presence in nature of this element of the given, 
this surd or irrational, as it has sometimes been 
called, which Timaeus appears to be personifying 
in his language about necessity." We need to 
be clear here that, in speaking of " givenness," 
1 Process and Reality, pp. 57-58 (67). 



" TIM-dEUS " AND WHITEHEAD s PHILOSOPHY 23 I 

we are not making a confusion between the nature 
of the subject-matter and the nature of our know 
ledge. Taylor sometimes seems to imply by 
" givenness " the residue of brute fact in nature 
which has never been adequately analysed, though 
we constantly approximate to it by pushing the 
element of arbitrary assumption further and further 
back. But is not the meaning of Plato s phrase 
44 TO 8 OLV Sdfjj fiT atcrflrjcrecws a\6yov So^acrroV, 
yiyvoptvov /cat a,7roXXv/xez>oz>, oWet)9 Se ouScTrore 
ov n that the character of nature itself, since it 
is a process of becoming, and " never truly 
is " is such that it can never be completely 
known or rationalised ? This latter is un 
doubtedly Taylor s real view as to Plato s 
meaning; 2 and he is also surely right in hold 
ing that Plato s view would be that in so far 
as we are able to make any " likely " statements 
about nature, it is because it " partakes " in the 
order and structure of the forms. There is an 
excellent statement of this on p. 134 of his Com- 
mentary. " We have not in mere juxtaposition 
a scientific knowledge of the laws of number, and 

1 Timeeus 28a. Quoted by Whitehead, op. cit., pp. 113-114 
(126). 

2 In the article in the Dublin Review (quoted above) he says 
" necessity " is the element of obstinate particularity in things. 
" It is always there, since we can never reduce the whole course 
of any concrete process to law without remainder, but it is always 
there as a subordinate element in a pattern which as a whole is 
rational." 



232 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

also acquaintance, based on sense, with a mere 
chaotic jumble of * appearances . . . We actually 
do see order and regularity in the appearances/ 
They are what the Philebus calls yeueVei? ets 
overtax, and that is why we can discern laws and 
uniformities to which they can approximately 
conform, and why science can progress by looking 
for a preciser formula when it has found that the 
old one has not saved the appearances/ 1 It 
is why in cosmology, though you never pass from 
the * likely story * to the exactitude of scientific 
finality, one story can be more * likely than 
another, and why it is our duty to make our story 
as * like the truth as we can." 

This exactly agrees with what Whitehead 
means by the intelligibility of an actual entity 
through its achievement of definiteness and de 
termination in its process of becoming. It in 
volves his view that apart from some systematic 
character in things, i.e. some way in which the 
world of becoming is conditioned by the general 
metaphysical principles which constitute the 
" Primordial Nature of God," there could be no 
possibility of understanding them, no justification 

1 There is a very interesting note on the natural history of 
this phrase vyfrw ra <cui/o/xei/a " to save appearances," by 
J. B. Mayor, in the Journal of Philology, vol. vi., p. 171. 

Taylor (of. cit., p. 60) says it means " to find a coherent 
expression which does full justice to the whole of the ascertained 
facts." 



" AND WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY 233 

of Induction, or even of scientific measurement 
and observation. 1 

If, therefore, our interpretation be correct, we 
may perhaps sum up this discussion by saying 
that both Whitehead and Plato approach philo 
sophical questions through a consideration of the 
nature and implications of an order in the universe. 
It is now time to supplement this by looking at 
the bearing which it has on the ethical and aesthetic 
sides of their philosophies. 

Let us first remind ourselves that the funda- 

1 This view of systematic relatedness, and the notion of 
congruence, i.e. of identity of function within a system, is a 
fundamental one to Whitehead. He shows that it is prior to 
and presupposed in measurement, so that apart from it scientific 
measurement and observation are a mere subjective day dream. 
This is where he differs from the Einsteinian view. Einstein 
holds that the metrical structure of space is simply determined 
by physical conditions. Whitehead holds that on this view, if 
we are to have an adequate theory of measurement, these physical 
conditions must exhibit constant and general uniformities. So 
in order to arrive at these uniformities, he holds that physics must 
be rested upon metaphysics. (But cf. Russell s criticism, 
Analysis of Matter, p. 79, quoted supra, p. 209 n. 

Possibly an analogy might here be drawn (though I should 
not press it too far) with Plato s discussion of measurement in 
Politicus, 2%$d. He finds, like Whitehead, the necessity of 
some absolute standard for measurement besides the purely 
relativist one of " one thing against another " (Kara rrjv TT/O^S 
ttAAf/Aa peycOovs) ; a standard which will be Kara TVJV r^s 
ycl/co-cws dvaynaiav ova-lav " according to the necessary 
character of becoming." 



234 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

mental principle or it may be assumption 
underlying both is that the order in the world is 
only explicable with reference to a primordial 
limitation on mere " creativity," which is the 
sufficient reason for the possibility of such order 
as we find in the temporal world. This supplies 
the final causation in virtue of which indeterminate 
creativity is given its initial urge to become a 
process of self-determination ; and in so far as the 
processes of the temporal world " participate " in 
it, it supplies the permanent elements in virtue 
of which there can be stability and solidarity in 
the universe. This may be what Plato meant 
by the Idea of the Good as being the sustaining 
cause of all things, and their final cause as the 
supreme object of rational desire. 1 In this sense, 
it is, as Taylor says, 2 " that to which the structure 
of things is conceived as adapted." It may, on 
the other hand, simply be the entire realm of the 
Ideas. But in either case the analogy with 
Whitehead s view of the Primordial Nature of 
God is obvious. 

But, to Whitehead, the Primordial Nature of 
God, the " envisagement " of the realm of eternal 
objects, or in other words, the ultimate limitation 



1 Cf. Rep. 9 50 J o ST) 

VKa TravTa Trparm . . . and 509^. 

2 Plato, p. 294; and cf. Burnet, Greek Philosophy, i., p. 230 
on " ideological algebra." 






TIM^EUS AND WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY 235 

upon mere creativity in virtue of which there are 
possibilities for the achievement of types of order, 
demands for its complete actuality, or what he 
calls the fulfilment of God s " Consequent Nature," 
the " ingression " of these possibilities into the 
world of becoming. 1 Whitehead therefore, in 
developing the Platonic view that " the things 
which are temporal arise by participation in the 
things which are eternal " is able, through his view 
of the " Consequent Nature of God " to do fuller 
justice to the reality of the " things which are 
temporal." They do not, as Plato was tempted to 
say, have a merely derivative and defective reality, 
" rolling about between not being and being," 
but in so far as they participate in the eternal 
objects, they actualise those eternal objects, and at 
the same time partake of their nature of " everlast- 
ingness." (Whitehead works this out in the last 
part of Process and Reality?) 

It is the doctrine of " objective immortality," 
which prevents us from taking a depreciatory view 
of the temporal world. This means that while the 

1 One might put this figuratively in the words of the Tim&us 
(340), Ofrros 8vj Trots oi Tos act Aoyr/A&s 0cou wcpl rbv TTOTC 
arofjitvov 0cbv Aoytcrtfcis. " This then was the whole thought 
of the everlasting God concerning the God which was to be." 

I am of course aware that the context of these words gives 
them a rather different sense. Nevertheless, we may perhaps 
say that the " thought of the everlasting God " is the Primordial 
Nature, the " God which is to be " the Consequent Nature. 



236 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

actualities of the past have perished, the character 
of their " decisions " has become a " stubborn fact," 
qualifying the process of becoming forever, so that 
the heritage of the past is held in the living im 
mediacy of the present. This is the " Consequent 
Nature of God," and, according to Whitehead s 
development of the idea, in the last chapter of 
Process and Reality , it is to be thought of as an 
evolving aesthetic harmonisation, in which the 
quality of every passing event is held, in so far 
as it can be, as a contributor towards the total 
unity. This is the sense in which God is spoken 
of as " the poet of the world." 1 

This means that to Whitehead, and here we 
can probably say that he is following Plato, the 
problems of metaphysics and of ethics, and 
aesthetics are primarily problems concerning the 
nature of order, and the types of order in which 
processes of becoming participate. So, to follow 
once more Taylor s interpretation, the reason 
why there is mathematical structure exemplified 
in nature, and the reason why there is ethical law 
is one and the same, since order is characteristic 
of the Good. To quote him, 2 " There is a real 
affinity between the moral orderliness of the good 
life and the orderliness of the great cosmic move 
ments, the same thought to which Kant gives 
a very characteristic turn in the famous closing 

1 Op. cit.y p. 490 (526). 2 Commentary, p. 257. 



" AND WHITEHEAD s PHILOSOPHY 237 

paragraph of the Critique of Practical Reason about 
the starry heaven above and the moral law with 
in. The life of rule is really the life according 
to Nature , since the source of Nature s laws is 
itself a moral one, God s choice of the best. " 

It has been easy for later generations to senti 
mentalise or romanticise this notion, and it is 
well to remind ourselves how literal a sense it 
carried in Greek philosophy. The saying in 
Gorgias 5080 r/ tcnmjs 17 yew/jcer/Hfci) /cat eV #019 
/cat lv avdpcoTTOis /xeya Swarat " Geometrical pro 
portion has great power among gods and men " 
is an instance of its sense of the attraction, the 
" fitness " of mathematical law. The Idealist and 
Romanticist tradition has carried modern philo 
sophy far away from this kind of view, through 
its concentration on the one hand on the thinking 
and willing Self, and the nature of moral obligation 
per se, and on the other hand, on the irrational 
elements in aesthetic and religious experience. 
So it is at first almost startling to find a modern 
philosopher like Whitehead going back to what 
is substantially the Platonic view. Rational order 
(as supremely exemplified in types of mathematical 
structure) has a beauty and a " fitness " which to 
Whitehead constitute the basis of ethical and 
aesthetic order. 1 ^Esthetic order results from the 

1 This is not, of course, to say that beauty consists in form or 
structure alone ; otherwise, as Russell points out (Analysis of 



238 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

richness of pattern involved when intensity of 
contrasts is achieved concurrently with an under 
lying harmonisation, (i.e. the tension between the 
two extremes, of order, as mere vague uniformity, 
and of disorder, as involving incompatibilities 
and discords resolved by no " higher synthesis "). 
Ethical order, Whitehead holds, is derivative from 
aesthetic order in this sense, as the attempt on the 
part of actual entities to realise depth and intensity 
of experience without its involving mutual thwart 
ing and incompatibilities. 1 

This is clearly an echo of the Greek view of the 
interrelation between the permanent elements in 
the nature of things as exhibiting rational order, 
and of our moral and aesthetic intuitions. Ration 
ality in this sense involves both aesthetic beauty 
and a moral intuition of " fitness " a complete 
satisfaction. Such, according to Whitehead, is 
the nature of God s final causation as regulating 

Matter, p. 227, note), we should have to say that a musical score 
is as beautiful as the music which it represents. But the form or 
structure still remains fundamental, even though we may say 
that, in the whole aesthetic experience, the structure is used to 
convey the feeling with which it is clothed through a sensuous 
presentation. 

1 Process and Reality, pp. 20-21 (23). "The antithesis 
between the general good and the individual interest can be 
abolished only when the individual is such that its interest is 
the general good, thus exemplifying the loss of the minor 
intensities in order to find them again with finer composition in 
a wider sweep of interest." 



"TIM^EUS " AND WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY 239 

the course of creation it lies in " the patient 
operation of the overpowering rationality of his 
conceptual harmonization." 1 To those to whom, 
as to Plato and Whitehead, the Socratic view that 
" Virtue is knowledge " is interpreted as an ap 
preciation of the satisfaction involved in a per 
ception of the " fitness of things," either actual or 
possible (which is what is meant by a perception 
of their rationality), the criticisms which have been 
levelled against it, from Aristotle onwards, on the 
ground that Xdyos ovSei/ Kivtl " pure reason 
moves nothing " must seem based on a funda 
mental misunderstanding. We may moreover 
doubt whether Plato, and certainly Whitehead, 
ever looks at " pure reason " as something abstract 
and inoperative. It is always clothed with some 
kind of emotional evaluation or appreciation. 

We may feel that in view of the increasing 
complexity revealed by modern knowledge both in 
the physical universe and in man s psychological 
and social life; in view also of our tendency either 
to separate the moral life from the order of nature, 
or else to look on it as a mere instrument of bio 
logical adjustment, this idea of a kinship between 
man s inner life and a reason underlying nature, 
may seem an undue simplification. But at the 
same time, it is impossible to underestimate the 
appeal such a view has had, since the first sug- 
1 Process and Reality, p. 490 (526). 



24O WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

gestions, in the figurative language of Pythagorean 
speculation, that there was a connection between 
" numbers," in the cosmic rhythms and harmonies, 
and the events of man s life. 

This view of course left its damnosa hareditas 
on the history of thought in the speculations of 
astrology; 1 but it found also a noble application 
in passages such as Tim<eus 90^ "To the divine 
part of us are akin the thoughts of revolutions " 
Tre/HoSot, (cf. supra, p. in) "of the All: these 
every man should follow ... by learning to 
know the harmonies and revolutions of the All, 
so as to render the thinking soul like the object 
of its thought according to her primal nature : and 
when he has made it like, so shall he have fulfil 
ment of that most excellent life that was set by 
the gods before mankind for time present and 
time to come." 2 It is therefore interesting and 
stimulating to find a modern philosopher like 
Whitehead setting forward a view which is 
after all not so very far removed from this, 
although of course his formulation of it must 
necessarily differ widely in its setting in the 
concepts of modern philosophic and scientific 
thought. We may not be able completely to 
accept Whitehead s views ; but at any rate we can 

1 As has been shown by C. C. J. Webb, Studies in the History 
of Natural Theology. 

2 Archer-Hind s translation. 



"TIIVL*US" AND WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY 241 

express our gratitude to him for such a magnificent 
attempt to give us a " modern form of Platonism," 
together with a renewal of our hope that the 
answer to the mystery surrounding the reason 
in the nature of things, and to the mystery of our 
ethical aspirations and aesthetic enjoyments, may 
lie in the same direction. 



16 



CHAPTER IX 

FINAL APPLICATIONS OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF 
ORGANISM IN NATURAL THEOLOGY 

Und da weiss ich, dass nichts vergeht, 
keine Geste und kein Gebet, 

(dazu sind die Dinge zu schwer), 
meine ganze Kindheit steht 
immer um mich her. 
Niemals bin ich allein. 
Viele, die vor mir lebten 
und fort von mir strebten, 
webten, 
webten 
an meinem Sein. 

RAINER MARIA RILKK 

Bright shootes of everlastingnesse. VAUGHAN. 

It has become a commonplace to say that 
philosophical science today can leave room for the 
forms of experience not easily amenable to rational 
analysis ; that scientific materialism need no longer 
be taken seriously as a metaphysic, however 
necessary it may be to the scientific worker as an 
ad hoc attitude towards the abstracted aspects of 
the world he is studying through his scientific 
method. Yet in view of the baffling complexity 
of the subject-matter; in view of the obvious 

242 



FINAL APPLICATIONS IN NATURAL THEOLOGY 243 

inadequacy, and the dogmatic spirit which has 
wrecked systems of natural theology, may it not 
be conceded that after all the failure of that kind 
of thought is foredoomed ? It is an attempt to 
say what cannot be said; and is not Wittgenstein 
right in insisting that concerning that of which 
one cannot speak one must be silent ? (" wovon 
man nicht sprechen kann, dariiber muss man 
schweigen "J. 1 Had we not better leave the 
attempt to apply our metaphysics in the realm of 
ultimate questions; bow to the mysterium tremendum^ 
the final incomprehensibility of the " a-logical 
core of the universe," while we recognise religion 
simply as the emotion or feeling of the numinous 
character of the mystery of the nature of things ? 
We can say that such an emotion is necessary and 
desirable; but we must have done with the pre 
tentiousness and arid rationalising of philosophical 
theology. 

This is a point of view all too common in a 

1 Tractatus, 7; and cf. F. R. Tennant, Philosophical 
Theology, vol. ii., pp. 74 sq . Tennant, however, like Whitehead, 
sees that though the World-Ground he calls God may be the 
" kst irrationality," this does not in itself imply that we may 
not come to see the necessity for it by a rational process. 

Cf. Science and the Modem World, p. 243. "For nothing, 
within any limited type of experience, can give intelligence to 
shape our ideas of any entity at the base of all actual things, 
unless the general character of things requires that there be such 
an entity." 



244 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

sophisticated age which has lost God, yet feels 
the need of Him; and has lost hope in the possi 
bility of a reasonable faith. There is a mysticism 
which is the other side of scepticism, and which, 
like it, is the child of despair; the mysticism, that is 
to say, which dares not examine the truth of its con 
tent, while scepticism knows that the search is vain. 

Yet Whitehead can still hold that there is a 
place and a necessity for a natural theology. He 
is maintaining that cosmology speculative 
scientific philosophy united with speculative theo 
logy is more than fanciful myth-making. Then 
was not John Dewey right when he said, in his 
review of Process and Reality^ that we put the 
book down with a feeling that the seventeenth 
century has got the better of the twentieth ? 

Our answer cannot be given until we have 
genuinely tried to grasp what he is telling us. 
We shall never appreciate him if we start from 
the assumption that a rationalist philosophy must 
of necessity do violence to religious intuitions, 
before we have waited to see whether he does not 
also recognise those intuitions; or if (with his 
reviewer in Mind] we say that his use of " God " 
in his metaphysic is " scandalous, 1 and yet can 
make the curious mistake of identifying his 
Primordial Nature of God with creativity or 
neutral stuff. We must have a patient under 
standing and appreciation of his philosophy as 



FINAL APPLICATIONS IN NATURAL THEOLOGY 245 

a whole; we must try to see what relation his 
" flashes of insight " bear to his general ideas ; 
and not judge them too quickly by their con 
gruence or incongruence with the general ideas 
of other religious systems. 

And, in the last resort, whether we shall be 
willing to follow him into the realm of philo 
sophical theology will depend upon whether we 
share his faith that reason is more than a chance 
by-product of a struggle for existence; that we 
may legitimately assume that " the ultimate 
natures of things lie together in a harmony which 
excludes mere arbitrariness " ; that the unknowing 
to which we always come in the end is, as Meister 
Eckhart said, an unknowing beyond, and not 
beneath, knowing, so that rational explanation 
must go on being pushed to its furthest limits. 

It will also depend on whether we hold that 
Whitehead is right in claiming that religion is 
more than an irrational feeling, with no signifi 
cance for the ordering of life; that it inevitably 
issues in propositions with a bearing upon the 
conduct of life, and that the assumption that 
these are necessarily good is uncritical and directly 
disproved by the facts. For better, or worse 
" your character is developed according to your 
faith." And so " the primary religious virtue is 
sincerity, a penetrating sincerity." 1 

1 Religion in the Making, p. 15. 



246 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

Religion is not metaphysics. It is true that 
it is primarily feeling, the emotion of moments 
of exceptional insight, which come generally in 
solitude, as he well reminds our gregarious age. 
Yet it claims to be more than a transient, particular 
emotion. It claims that its concepts "though 
derived primarily from special experiences, are 
yet of universal validity, to be applied by faith to 
the ordering of all experience." 1 As soon as there 
is any conscious association of religion and conduct, 
the age of rationalism has dawned. We must find 
some means of judging the value of the propositions 
which issue from our religion, in their bearing 
on u the art and theory of the inner life of man." 

For " Religion," he reminds us, " is an ultimate 
craving to infuse into the insistent particularity of 
emotion that non-temporal generality which pri 
marily belongs to conceptual thought alone. In the 
higher organisms the differences of tempo between 
the mere emotions and the conceptual experiences 
produce a life-tedium, unless this supreme fusion 
has been effected. The two sides of the organism 
require a reconciliation in which emotional ex 
periences illustrate a conceptual justification, 
and conceptual experiences find an emotional 
justification." 2 

1 Religion in the Making, p. 32. 

2 Process and Reality, p. 21 (23) ; cf. Religion in the Making, 



FINAL APPLICATIONS IN NATURAL THEOLOGY 247 

The progressive attempt to effect this fusion 
is rational religion. The alternative is a philo 
sophical scepticism together with mystical emotion ; 
which leads on the one hand to a destructive 
rationalism, and on the other hand to a mysticism 
whose content we dare not rationalise lest we dis 
cover it to be a form of error. But this means 
in the end a split between our intellectual and 
emotional life. Instead of each enriching the 
other, each can only be enjoyed (as Hume saw) 
when the other is forgotten. How difficult it is 
to effect this reconciliation is not to be minimised ; 
yet when the failure to do so becomes characteristic 
of the educated culture of a community, we have 
to fear an increasing individualism, which comes 
from the failure to communicate our deeper 
intuitions, and a lack of the zest which results 
from the union of thought and passion in creative 
endeavour. 

Let us now turn to look at the way in which 
Whitehead finds the final applications of his 
metaphysic in rational religion. The difficulties 
are enormous; any inadequacies of his categories 
must here weigh in very heavily. Yet the last 
section of Process and Reality is not an addendum 
irrelevant to the rest of the book. It is an integral 
part of it. 

We must first go back to his Category of the 
Ultimate creativity. This we saw could be 



248 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

described as v\r) the pure, formless, substantial 
activity. This pure activity may be opposed to 
the pure potentiality of the eternal objects. But 
together these could have produced nothing, for 
"unlimited possibility and abstract creativity 
can procure nothing." 1 Actuality always demands 
a limitation of pure creativity and pure potential 
ity. 2 So for there to be any course of events 
whatsoever there must be a limitation upon pure 
creativity. In the passage in Science and the 
Modern World* the ground for limitation is said 
to " stand among the attributes of the substantial 
activity." But here there is a difficulty. For 
Whitehead also insists that since all actual entities 
are creatures of creativity, God as an actual entity 
is also a creature, " the first created fact." Crea 
tivity in itself could surely have no attributes, 
since an attribute is a necessary characterisation, 
and all characterisation of creativity, Whitehead 
holds, belongs not to it in itself, but comes through 
its " creatures." 4 In Process and Realitf he 
speaks of creativity as the "ultimate which is 
actual in virtue of its accidents." By " accident " 
he must mean a characterisation which could be 
otherwise without the substantial activity itself 

1 Religion in the Making, p. 152. 

2 Process and Reality, p. 488 (523); Science and the Modern 
World, p. 244. 

3 P. 249. 4 Process and Reality, p. 43 (47). 
* P. 9 (10). 



FINAL APPLICATIONS IN NATURAL THEOLOGY 249 

having to be other than it is. If we can make the 
distinction between attribute and accident, we 
may say that an attribute flows from the nature 
of a substance, whereas an accident does not. 
No sufficient reason can be given in the nature 
of the substance for the accident being as it is; 
and there is thus a certain arbitrariness about it. 
When therefore Whitehead calls the Primordial 
Nature of God an " accident " of creativity, he 
means that we can give no reason from the nature 
of creativity why God is as He is, but the reason 
for there being any course of events at all depends 
on there being some primordial limitation upon 
creativity which is called God. 1 If we go on to 
ask how sheer creativity, itself unfettered, could 

1 The reviewer of Science and the Modern World (in Mind, 
October, 1926) points out that though Whitehead protests 
against paying "metaphysical compliments" to God, he pays Him 
the moral compliment of asserting that the limitation of the 
" ultimate irrationality " consists in His Goodness. What 
reason is there that the character of an ultimate limitation should 
be good ? Perhaps we may answer this (which is after all but 
a form of the age-old question whether the Good is what God 
wills, or God wills it because it is Good) by accepting the arbi 
trariness of the ultimate order, and saying that we must call it 
good. In His Will is our peace. Or (and I suspect this would 
be Whitehead s own answer), we may say that there is evidence 
that the elements of order in the world which in the long run 
prove constructive and stable are those which, as rational moral 
beings, we recognise as good. (Cf. Tennant, Philosophical 
Theology, vol. ii., pp. n 



250 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

produce this primordial limitation, the answer 
would probably have to be that which C. G. Stone, 
in The Social Contract of the Universe, gives to the 
analogous question of how there can be an original 
creation of organisation (i.e. significant action in 
a system) by action which is not organised ; when 
he replies that in the last resort action can do 
anything that it must do in order for there to be 
anything at all. 

Turning to a more orthodox type of metaphysic, 
we may see a clear connection between this view of 
Whitehead s and the old Cosmological Argument 
for the existence of God, which reasons from 
the contingency of the world to a transcendent 
necessary Being. If we ask (as I have always 
found it tempting to do) why the world itself 
should not be the necessary Being, an answer is 
clearer in Whitehead s metaphysic than perhaps 
in others which have appealed to this argument. 
For if, with him, we take the concept of Process 
seriously, and hold that the creative advance of 
the world is a " plunge into novelty " then the 
world is essentially incomplete. It cannot be 
complete and self-consistent, or we are involved 
in the determinism which denies Process. If we 
are to hold that the temporal world is indeed a 
44 plunge into novelty," we must say that the 
necessary ground of limitation transcends the 
temporal world, since it also provides the meta- 



FINAL APPLICATIONS IN NATURAL THEOLOGY 

physical conditions of new orders of possi 
bilities. 

It may be worth while to notice in passing the 
difference in this respect between Whitehead s 
view and that of our other great contemporary 
metaphysician, who in some ways is more like 
him than any other living philosopher, namely 
Professor Alexander. Alexander also does no 
thing if not take the idea of Process seriously. 
But he tries to describe the process of the evolving 
world of Space-Time without bringing in any Cos- 
mological Argument for transcendent necessary 
Being. In so doing he can only make novelty 
possible by making use of the concept of Emer 
gence; yet one is left wondering whether this 
really explains anything. Can more and more 
intricate organisations of Space-Time really be 
effective in themselves to produce entirely new 
qualities ? We are having to do with a magic box 
from which a great deal more can come out than 
was ever put in. God, to Alexander, as to White- 
head, has to do with new orders of possibilities. 
But, to Alexander, He is simply the next emergent 
quality to which the universe strains an ideal 
new order of possibilities glimpsed over the 
horizon; " the immediate object of the appetition 
of the world," to use a vivid phrase of Whitehead s, 
To Whitehead, He is the necessary metaphysical 
ground of all possibilities whatever, both those 



252 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

actualised and those waiting for actualisation, 
and, by reason of the Ontological Principle, Him 
self actual Being, and not merely an ideal. 

Creativity, then, according to Whitehead, 
produces as a primordial fact an ordering of 
possibilities in virtue of which there can be the 
relevance of one to another in logical order, and 
so some definite character, in a course of events. 
This is God as the Principle of Concretion, 
44 whereby there is a definite outcome to a situation 
otherwise riddled with ambiguity." 1 But we are 
still left wondering what he makes the precise 
relation between God and creativity. It is clear 
that they are not simply to be identified, since 
God as actual is limited, and creativity boundless. 
God, we have seen, is spoken of as the first creature, 
and accident of creativity. Is creativity then 
prior to God, as seems to be implied in speaking 
of God as a " creature," and of creativity as pro 
ducing God ? Or is the distinction merely a 
logical one i.e. in reality, creativity and the 
Primordial Nature of God are complementary 
sides of the same thing ? 

I would suggest, tentatively as a merely amateur 
reader of the history of Christian Doctrine, that 
a very similar problem comes out in the discussions 
in the Greek Fathers of the relation of the First 
and Second Persons of the Trinity the problem 

1 Process and Reality, p. 488 (523). 



FINAL APPLICATIONS IN NATURAL THEOLOGY 253 

in fact which gave rise later to the Arian con 
troversy. We may look on creativity as analo 
gous to the Creative Power of the Father, and the 
Primordial Nature of God as analogous to the 
Logos the order of a " Wisdom " in virtue of 
which effective creation is possible. Were these 
eternally together, in which case we have Origen s 
doctrine of the Eternal Generation of the Word ? 
Or should we say that " there was when the Son 
was not " (not, we may note, a time when He was 
not, for to the Arians, as to Whitehead, He 
was before the creation of the temporal world) ? 
The phrase TrpwroTOfcbs Tracnys KTL crews 1 so often 
quoted by the Arians might be taken as almost 
an exact parallel to Whitehead s phrase "the 
primordial creature." 

But if we could say that he intends the dis 
tinction of priority in creativity and the Primor 
dial Nature to be simply a logical one, we 
might say that we have something not unlike 
the Doctrine of the Trinity in the Alexandrian 
Fathers, (a) In the first place, we have the 
Father as creative power; () we have the "limita 
tion " in virtue of which God is perfect 2 ; (c) we 

1 Col.i. 15. 

2 Cf. Bigg, The Christian Platonists of Alexandria, p. 198. 
He shows how Origen, as a Platonist, rejects the idea of God as 
" infinite " in the pseudo-metaphysical sense, in favour of the 
idea of Him as perfect, which as value necessarily implies 
limitation. 



254 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

have the same ambiguity as there is between 
Origen s doctrine of the Eternal Generation of 
the Logos, and his Subordinationism in speaking 
of the Logos as a derived Deity (and so perhaps 
opening the way to Arianism). 1 (d) There is the 
interest in cosmology, in God in His relation 
to the world, which looks on the creator and the 
creation as in some way correlative. I would 
suggest that this interest in cosmology was charac 
teristic of the Platonic Christianity of the Alexan 
drian Fathers, in contrast to the concentration 
on the Trinity in the Latin Fathers as a description 
of the nature of God alone by Himself, apart from 
the world and condescending to it. (e) If we rule 
out the Platonic, or rather Neo-Platonic dualism, 
and the view of matter as evil, if not illusory, 
which always casts its shadow on Alexandrian 
Christian Platonism, we might say that its view 
of creation is not unlike that of the Philosophy 
of Organism, in so far as creation is regarded as 
a process made possible by the incoming of the 
wisdom of God a gradual becoming of order 
with God s immanence as the measure of its 
aesthetic consistency. 2 We might even suggest 

1 Cf. Bigg, op. cit., pp. 222 sq. 

2 This suggested analogy may of course be made without 
prejudice to the question of whether we are to hold that in any 
special sense Jesus of Nazareth was the Incarnate Logos, which, 
if I am not mistaken, is where the problem of orthodox Chris 
tianity becomes acute for our generation. I would however 



FINAL APPLICATIONS IN NATURAL THEOLOGY 255 

that the " aeons " of the Alexandrians were a 
mythological expression of a speculation similar 
to Whitehead s concerning other types of world 
order; whereas the perfect order would be achieved 
through the aesthetic harmony of God s complete 
immanence, when He will be " all in all." The 
Holy Spirit might be described as the Consequent 
Nature of God, as the measure of the creative 
order achieved in the temporal world (not, that 
is, the disastrous Platonic notion of an inferior 
deity which is the Soul of the World, but God 
as immanent in the creative advance of the world, 
and the reason for the order which makes this 
advance possible). 

suggest that Thornton s use of Whitehead s Philosophy of 
Organism to support this, in his book The Incarnate Lord 
(London, 1928), is not really justified. He can indeed claim 
Whitehead s support for the view that our apprehension of the 
eternal order depends upon the fact of a developing incorpora 
tion of that order into the successions of events in Space-Time 
through an ascending cosmic series (cf. The Incarnate Lord, 
p. 98). But this has really no bearing on the Christology of 
the latter half of the book, since he claims that Christ is not 
a product of the creative organic series but an irruption of the 
Logos-Creator (or the absolute eternal order) into the series. 
See ibid., p. 260. " The argument of this book can find no 
place for the mediator of an absolute revelation, except His 
metaphysical status be altogether beyond the organic series and 
on the level of the eternal order." It therefore in effect 
sacrifices the conception of an organic connection between the 
eternal order and the temporal series in order to preserve a 
finality of revelation. 



256 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

I should not wish this analogy to be taken too 
seriously, and it is always a deceptive business 
to compare one system of ideas with another. 
It is suggested tentatively, simply as additional 
evidence that the questions raised are real ones. 
It may be of interest to see how similar problems 
of cosmology come up in very different settings, 
and how a similar kind of answer may be given. 
It may also serve to substantiate the claim made 
in Chapter V., that Whitehead s cosmology falls 
within the Platonic tradition. If the Platonic 
tradition can be purified of its suggestion of 
dualism, and of the illusoriness of the temporal 
process, and of its constant danger of slipping 
back into what Whitehead calls an atavistic 
mysticism, we may see that what is abiding in it 
is just this kind of view of the world as a gradual 
growth towards rational and aesthetic types of 
order, the ground for which is to be found in the 
fundamental nature of things. 

The Primordial Nature of God then, in ab 
straction from creativity, Whitehead describes as 
the " conceptual realisation " of the whole wealth 
of potentiality. He further speaks of " concep 
tual realisation " as " envisagement " or " vision " 
of the eternal objects; and as a "wisdom," which 
orders or evaluates the realm of eternal objects. 1 
This primarily, as far as we can see, must mean 
1 Religion in the Making, p. 160. 



FINAL APPLICATIONS IN NATURAL THEOLOGY 257 

that the Primordial Nature of God constitutes 
an order of values, which is the reason for that 
" rightness in things, partially conformed to and 
partially disregarded," which Whitehead says 1 is 
the universal verdict of the rationalised religions 
of the world. But here the difficulties of language 
are only too apparent. For he uses words such 
as " wisdom " and " vision " of the Primordial 
Nature of God which, as pure conceptual experi 
ence, he says must be unconscious. This seems 
very difficult, but it follows from his view of 
consciousness as arising from the integration of 
mental and physical feelings. 2 Therefore pure 
mental feeling by itself would be just a formal 
logical order, and, he says, unconscious. But 
as all actual entities are dipolar, God as an actual 
entity cannot be looked on as fully actual when 
His mental pole, i.e. His Primordial Nature, is 
considered alone. For besides " valuation," it 
consists in " appetition," which is the urge towards 
some realisation in physical experience which will 
constitute His physical pole. God in His Primor 
dial Nature is God as the Unmoved Mover. It 
is unchangeable, as the complete envisagement of 
the realm of eternal objects, unmoved by what 
ever may be the actual course of temporal events. 
It does not presuppose any particular course of 

1 Ibid., p. 66. 

2 Process and Reality, pp. 489 (524) and 486 (521). 

17 



258 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

events, since the events which become are self- 
creative, but it supplies the conditions which 
make any course of events possible. 1 Yet by 
attributing to it u appetition," i.e. the urge to 
become fully actual, 2 he says that it involves the 
becoming of some temporal course of events which 
will constitute its physical pole. By the integra 
tion of God s conceptual nature with the evolving 
events of the physical world, God becomes fully 
actual and conscious. 

We might therefore say that while God starts 
from His mental pole, and becomes fully actual 
by the growth of a physical pole, the temporal 
world starts from orders of events in which the 
mental pole is almost negligible, and advances to 
finer and subtler types as the mental pole becomes 
more dominant. Why this should be so we perhaps 
cannot say; we can only say that empirically it 
appears that on the whole it is so, and refer 

1 A. E. Taylor misreads Whitehead here, in his article 
" Dr. Whitehead s Philosophy of Religion," in the Dublin 
Review, July, 1927. He speaks of the Primordial Nature of 
God as " the existence of a supreme source of limitation . . . 
whose all-pervading activity determines both what combinations 
of eternal objects shall be really possible . . . and which of 
these real possibilities shall in fact be actualised in the flow 
of events." But it is now clear that Whitehead s view does 
not imply the latter statement cf. Process and Reality, p. 60 

(70). 

2 We may recall Leibniz use of this word ; and cf. Process 
and Reality, pp. 44-45 (48-49). 



FINAL APPLICATIONS IN NATURAL THEOLOGY 259 

again to the answer to the not dissimilar question 
given in The Social Contract of the Universe 
that the " great " enterprise of the Universe, if 
it is to be a " serious " enterprise starts from 
a condition as remote as possible from its 
goal, a condition namely in which there is as 
much incoherence and confusion as there can 
possibly be. 

The incoming of the order of eternal objects 
which constitutes the Primordial Nature of God 
into the temporal course of events is called the 
Consequent Nature of God. It is the immanence 
of this order which alone makes any course of 
events possible. For " It is not the case that 
there is an actual world which accidentally happens 
to exhibit an order of nature. There is an actual 
world because there is an order of nature. If 
there were no order there would be no world." 1 
That is to say, the divine element in the world 
is the stable element, 2 the ultimate ordering 
without which creativity would be mere chaos. 
God s Primordial Nature in itself supplies what 
we may say are the formal conditions of this order. 
Yet, as formal, it is deficient in actuality, and 
so Whitehead says that its valuation and appeti- 
tion involve an aim towards an order as content, 
that is, towards the Consequent Nature, 3 which 

1 Religion in the Making, p. 104. 2 Ibid., p. 94. 

3 Process and Reality, p. 345 (373)- 



260 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

will be some intensity of experience. " What is 
inexorable in God, is valuation as an aim 
towards order ; and * order means society 
permissive of actualities with patterned intensity 
of feeling arising from adjusted contrasts." 

Thus God s conceptual valuation, like that of 
the mental pole of every actual entity, introduces 
creative purpose. 1 His Consequent Nature is the 
measure of the order attained in the evolving 
world. It is the order in " present immediacy," 
that is, in the living present, as the outcome of all 
the past, and as stretching forward to the unknown 
possibilities of the future. This is why the present 
is holy ground. It " holds within itself the com 
plete sum of existence backwards and forwards, 
that whole amplitude of time which is eternity." 2 
Since Whitehead holds that all order is, in the end, 
aesthetic order, he speaks of the Consequent 
Nature of God as the measure of the aesthetic 
order of the world, " the poet of the world " ; 
and since it is also the interweaving of His 
Primordial Nature with the course of events, it 
is " the kingdom of heaven," with us today; 3 the 
" present immediacy of a kingdom not of this 
world." 4 Here we may catch a clear echo of the 
teaching of the great tradition of Christian 
Platonism. 

1 Process and Reality, p. 351 (380). 

2 Alms of Education, p. 23. 

3 Process and Reality, p. 497 (532). 4 I6ta . 9 p.^S^ (520). 



FINAL APPLICATIONS IN NATURAL THEOLOGY 26 1 

But his departure from what has been a general 
feature of Platonic metaphysics may be seen in 
the way in which he approaches the final recon 
ciliation of what he calls the ideal opposites 
permanence and flux. It will be remembered 
that he saw the major problem of metaphysics in 
the finding of a right relation between the per 
manent and fluent elements of the universe. 
Theologies and philosophies, he tells us, 1 have 
tended to approach the problem by conceiving 
a static God condescending to a fluent world, or 
to a world accidentally static, but which was 
once created out of nothing, and which shall finally 
pass away. Here however we have the notion 
of actuality with permanence requiring fluency 
in the temporal world as its completion, and the 
fluency of the actual world requiring permanence 
as its completion. God and the world therefore 
require each other, and " stand over against one 
another expressing the final metaphysical truth 
that appetitive vision and physical enjoyment 
have equal claim to priority in creation." 2 

The becoming of temporal actualities, for which 
God s Primordial Nature supplies the metaphysical 
conditions, the initial urge, and the relevant pos 
sibilities of order, is a process in which objective* 
immortality means the loss of immediacy. 3 For 

1 Process and Reality, p. 491 (526). 2 Ibid., p. 493 ($29) 



262 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

time is a perpetual perishing; and when an actual 
entity has become, so that its achievement remains 
a stubborn fact, objectively immortal for other 
actual entities, it has perished subjectively. So 
both God and the world apart from one another 
have a deficiency. For God s conceptual nature, 
apart from integration with feelings derived from 
the temporal world, is unconscious. 1 And the 
evil of the temporal world, which lies deeper than 
any specific evil, Whitehead sees lies in its transi- 
sncy (and he here lays his finger on the reason 
for the inadequacy of any irreligious philosophy 
to satisfy our most poignant need). In its passage 
"he temporal world is a perpetual perishing; and 
the finer and subtler orders are the most transient, 
and the most precariously poised. 

The obvious answer, he says, 2 to the problem 
3f the coming into being and passing away of life 
^n nature is the answer of Bergson s elan vital 
with its relapse into matter 

Blow bugles, blow ; set the wild echoes flying 
And answer echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying. 

Yet the higher intellectual feelings, and the reli 
gious intuition of mankind, refuse to look on 

1 Whether we can accept this point depends on whether we 
:an say that it is legitimate for Whitehead to describe a formal 
ordering of concepts apart from conscious mentality as a " con- 
:eptual realisation " or " envisagement." 

2 Principles of Natural Knowledge, p. 200. 



FINAL APPLICATIONS IN NATURAL THEOLOGY 263 

human life as " a flash of occasional enjoyments, 
lighting up a mass of pain and misery, a bagatelle 
of transient experience." 1 There is also, he 
reminds us, the greater depth of Wordsworth s 
answer 

The music in my heart I bore 
Long after it was heard no more. 

If we can look on such consistency as is achieved 
in the self-creative advance of the temporal world 
as the immanence of God in the world, we can 
then see how the twofold deficiency arising from 
the opposition of God and the world may be 
overcome. For in the Consequent Nature of 
God, God s conceptual feelings become conscious 
from integration with His physical feelings of each 
actuality as it arises ; and that actuality contributes 
the quality of its own objective immortality to the 
progressive aesthetic harmonisation which is the 
immediacy of God s experience of the temporal 
world. He holds the actual entities of the past 
as objectively immortal in the immediacy of His 
own nature, somewhat as in memory the present 
actual occasion knows itself as arising from its 
past occasions, the quality of which it holds as 
contributors to its own nature. 2 We have here 
the notion of " everlastingness " which Whitehead 
says is " the content of that vision upon which 

1 Science and the Modern World, p. 268. 

2 Process and Reality, p. 496 (531-532). 



264 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

the finer religions are built "* and by which, he 
says, is meant the combination of permanence with 
living immediacy. So God " does not create the 
world," for the actualities of the world are them 
selves processes of self-creation. But in His 
Consequent Nature, He " saves the world as 
it passes into the immediacy of His own life." 2 
We may conceive of this " operative growth of 
God s nature " under the image of " a tender 
care that nothing be lost." Here, as a testimony 
to the deep significance of this idea, we may recall 
the philosophy of religion of a thinker of a very 
different school, the late Professor HofFding s view 
of religion as a faith in the conservation of values. 
This is why actuality is haunted by the sense of 
worth beyond itself. 3 For it contributes its 
quality to God s Consequent Nature. Hence 
this same quality may be " redeemer or goddess 
of mischief." 4 For there is an inexorableness 
in creative advance, in which objective immor 
tality constitutes stubborn fact which cannot be 
evaded. And while we may say that the im 
manence of God is the measure of the aesthetic 
consistency of the world, the societies of actual 
entities of the world show also lack of consistency, 
and mutual thwarting. We have some stability, 
some creative order in virtue of the divine element 
1 Process and Reality, p. 492 (527). 

P- 49 (S^S-S^). * Ibid., p. 495 (531). 

*-> P- 497 (533)- 



FINAL APPLICATIONS IN NATURAL THEOLOGY 265 

in the world, but it is precariously poised amid 
chaos, in which the temporal world is seen to be 
not so much aesthetic order as a maze of cross 
purposes. This is why the complacent optimism 
of the natural theology based on the old form of 
the Teleological Argument is doomed to failure. 
Lucretius long ago, and Hume after him in 
his Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, showed 
that if this be the last word, 

Nequaquam nobis divinitus esse paratam 
Naturam rerum : tanta stat praedita culpa. 1 

Yet without some measure of creative order 
there could be no stability and no possibility of 
effective advance into novelty. So, besides the 
maze of cross purposes, there is the aesthetic har- 
monisation of such order as is achieved in the 
temporal world. Here again we see that it is 
probably true to say that Whitehead s view is 
derived not so much from its thinking about 
physics, or even ethics, as about aesthetics. Or 
in other words, for him all order is in the last 
resort aesthetic order. 2 By aesthetic order he 
means some synthesis of contrasts an identity 
and difference which makes possible some degree 
of intensity of feeling. And since some degree 



1 De Rer. Nat., v., 198, 199. 

2 Religion In the Making, p. 105. 



266 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

of intensity is the common denominator of all 
acts of experience, an act of experience is called 
an aesthetic fact. The concrescence of actual 
entities exhibits some aesthetic order. This is 
more than just system, or pattern in the sense of 
mere repetition, since each phase brings a new 
synthesis of contrasts, so we have " order enter 
ing upon novelty." 1 

He traces, with what we must feel is an extra 
ordinary subtlety and penetration, the conditions 
for intensity and depth of aesthetic order. Such 
depth in intensity comes always from the razor- 
edge balance between narrowness and width, 
definiteness and vagueness. 

Triviality " arises from excess of incompatible 
differentiation " ; 2 and also from the uniformity 
of a too stabilised order in which the possi 
bility of effective contrast is excluded. " Some 
narrow concentration on a limited set of effects 
is essential for depth " ; and yet at the same 
time "the right chaos, and the right vague 
ness, are jointly required for any effective har 
mony." 8 For only so do we achieve the " massive 
simplicity " which is the background of an effect 
ive order, and which secures the blotting out 

1 Process and Reality, pp. 480 (515), 394-395 (425-426). 
Religion in the Making, ch. iii., 7. 

2 Process and Reality, p. 156 (170). 

3 Ibid., p. 157 (171). 



FINAL APPLICATIONS IN NATURAL THEOLOGY 267 

of irrelevant detail. He dwells also 1 on "the 
contrast between order as the condition for ex 
cellence, and order as stifling the freshness of 
living," and shows how just the concept of order 
in itself is not enough. For " it seems as though 
the last delicacies of feeling require some element 
of novelty to relieve their massive inheritance 
from bygone system. Order is not sufficient. 
What is required is something much more com 
plex. It is order entering upon novelty; so that 
the massiveness of order does not degenerate 
into mere repetition; and so that the novelty is 
always reflected upon a background of system." 
We may meditate on passages such as this, in 
their application to the order which may be ex 
pressed by a picture, a poem, a government, a 
man s character and his life-interests. Perhaps, 
if such an example is permitted we may see a 
supreme exemplification of these principles of 
the depth and intensity of order in the parables 
of the New Testament. There is the " massive 
simplicity " of the background, the facts of the 
world seen in relation to the Father who loves 
righteousness and mercy; the narrowness and 
depth of concentration on the little world of 
Galilee; and the vivid realism with which the 
relations of men good and bad are seen with the 
immeasurable innocence, which, as Whitehead 
1 Ibid., pp. 479-48o 



268 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

says, is a " rationalism derived from direct in 
tuition and divorced from dialectics." 1 So they 
remain, a sword-thrust into the heart of life, 
their penetrating paradoxes and contrasts still 
speaking with an authority greater than that of 
the successive generations of scribes who have 
tried to trivialise them into workable platitudes. 
But there is another aspect of the aesthetic 
order of the world which forbids the complacent 
optimism of eighteenth century natural theology 
the "jaunty assurance " of a Pope or a Paley. For 
the evil in the world lies in the characters of things 
being mutually obstructive ; organisms must prey 
upon one another; and the idea that the most 
valuable have the greatest survival value is in 
plain contradiction to the facts. Instead, it is 
the organisms with deeper and subtler types of 
order which are the most precariously poised, 
and whose life is the most transient. For novelty 
and freedom may be won at the expense of the 
stability of an order perfectly adapted to a par 
ticular form of environment. So the society of 
molecules composing a rock may have a survival 
value of hundreds of millions of years, those 
composing a man s life of only 70 years. 2 The 
transiency of the subtler types of order, the mutual, 
obstructiveness in the characters of organisms, 

1 Religion in the Making, p. 57. 

2 Symbolism, p. 76. 



FINAL APPLICATIONS IN NATURAL THEOLOGY 269 

are facts of evil in the world which Whitehead s 
philosophy does not burk. But he also claims 
that we have evidence that the final underly 
ing order of the world is a moral order (the 
divine order whose self-limitation is the exclusion 
of evil). 1 For evil is unstable; "the common 
character of all evil is that there is some concurrent 
realisation of a purpose towards elimination." 
That is to say, while evil is positive, it is also de 
structive, and in the end self-destructive. This 
may not mean gain in progress (in fact evil may 
definitely hold up creative progress unless it be 
made an opportunity for eliciting greater good) 
for " the evil in itself leads to the world losing 
forms of attainment in which that evil manifests 
itself. Either the species ceases to exist, or it 
sinks back into a stage in which it ranks below 
the possibility of that form of evil." So evil may 
involve degradation, in which the evil exists in 
virtue of comparison with what might have been. 
A hog is not an evil beast; but when a man is 
degraded to the level of a hog there is evil. The 
instability which leads to the elimination of a 
form of evil may result in extinction for the 
species, in the atrophy of the finer feelings which 
. make a comparison with what might be possible, 
or in the overcoming of the evil through the 
development of a yet more subtle order in which 
1 Religion in the Making, p. 95. 



2JO WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

even the evil facts also are turned to good account. 
For Whitehead reminds us that there is also the 
notion of redemption through suffering, which 
haunts the world. 1 And he suggests that this 
is how the world is saved in the final harmonisation 
of God s Consequent Nature. 2 His Consequent 
Nature is the positive construction of value out 
of the wreckage of the temporal world. So what 
is positive and constructive is so far good. For 
" there is a self-preservation in that which is good 
in itself. Its destruction may come from without 
but not from within." 3 

The purpose of the divine order is the positive 
attainment of value; for there is a quality of life 
beyond the mere facts of life. 4 So the final ques 
tion the spirit asks is, " What in the way of value 
is the attainment of life ? And it can find no such 
value till it has merged its individual claim with 
that of the objective universe. Religion is world- 
loyalty." 

For we recall the description of a process of 
becoming as a subjective aim towards " satisfac 
tion " the attainment by an actuality of its own 
definiteness. And it may have sounded as though 
we had here simply a metaphysic which reflects 

1 Process and Reality, p. 495 (531). 

2 /<*/V., p. 315 (341). 

3 Religion in the Making, p. 98. 

4 Ibid., pp. 60 and 80. 



FINAL APPLICATIONS IN NATURAL THEOLOGY 271 

the catch-words of the age, of self-realisation and 
self-expression. This indeed is an image under 
which we might rightly conceive the nature of a 
process of becoming without religion. For the 
Philosophy of Organism holds that, besides the 
value of the community of individuals interrelated 
to one another, there is the value of the individual 
alone in itself. But religion begins when the 
individual realises the terrifying fact of its solitari 
ness in the face of the whole vast scheme of things, 
and the fact that it has some unique responsibility 
towards it. Then, Whitehead says, it may pass 
through three stages, in the transition from God 
the void to God the enemy, and from God the 
enemy to God the companion. 1 

The last stage is reached when it merges its 
individual value with the claim of the divine order 
in the world. For "the antithesis between the 
general good and the individual interest can be 
abolished only when the individual is such that 
its interest is the general good, thus exemplifying 
the loss of the minor intensities in order to find 
them again with finer composition in a wider sweep 
of interest." 2 And God in the world " is that 
element in virtue of which our purposes extend 
beyond values for ourselves to values for others. 
He is that element in virtue of which the attainment 

1 Religion in the Making^ p. 16. 

2 Process and Reality, p. 21 (23). 



272 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

of such a value for others transforms itself into 
value for ourselves." 1 

So the incarnation of God in the world is both 
the measure of such aesthetic order as is to be 
found, and the reason for the value of existence 
in actualising this order. And religion is loy 
alty to the divine order; both in its conservation 
of values here in present immediacy, and as the 
creative, imaginative grasp of orders of possibilities 
which might be " the perpetual vision of the road 
which leads to the deeper realities." 2 It is the 
knowledge of a kingdom of heaven with us today, 
an order in which objective immortality does not 
mean transiency and loss. 

It is an order which may be disregarded; for 
it is never force, God s power lies above the 
sphere of competitive forces, the world of claims 
and counter-claims; " it lies in the patient operation 
of the overpowering rationality of His concep 
tual harmonisation." 8 The divine reasonableness 
which gives the creative solution to each situation 
never thrusts itself upon us. As Professor Hock 
ing says 4 " Anger pitted against anger can never 
be sure of conquest : but a * soft answer enters 

1 Religion in the Making, p. 158. 

2 Uid. 

3 Process and Reality, p. 490 (526) ; cf. Science and the Modern 
World??. 268. 

4 The Meaning of God in Human Experience (Yale, 1912), 
pp. 221-222. 



FINAL APPLICATIONS IN NATURAL THEOLOGY 273 

the situation as a new idea. If it conquers it is 
because, refusing to compete, it includes and it 
self stands outside the arena. Without further 
illustration, may I suggest the principle that the 
supreme power in every case is a non-compet 
ing power, one which may seem at first glance 
even irrelevant to the point at issue. . . . The 
authentic voice of God, if it is to come to man with 
a wholly irresistible might of meaning, must be a 
still, small voice." 



CHAPTER X 

CONCLUSION 



Ov yap ircpl rov eirtTvxovTos o Aoyos, aAAa ircpl rov ovrwa 
oTrov XP*I tfy PIATO: Rep. 



IN the preceding chapters I have been trying to 
bring into relief some of the main features of 
the Philosophy of Organism. Once more let it be 
said, this book is not intended to be an epitome 
of Whitehead s great work. It is, as I said at 
the outset, of the nature of an acknowledgment 
of the interest which a student has found in it; 
and an interpretation which is necessarily made 
from the humanist and not from the scientific 
point of view. In these concluding pages, I 
should like it to recall a few of the leading ideas 
which we have found in the Philosophy of 
Organism which, when they are lived with, may 
be found to have a significance beyond their 
theoretical interest. 

In the first place, there are the implications of 
taking the idea of Process seriously. The sub 
stitution of the concept of the " event " for that of 
" Substance " means that the nature of things is 
essentially a happening. This was the domin 
ant note in Whitehead s earlier Naturphilosophie. 

274 



CONCLUSION 275 

The new development in what he has called his 
Philosophy of Organism is, I take it, the elabora 
tion of the concept of the event into that of the 
concrescence. This means that we take seriously 
not only the concept of Process, but also that of 
Growth. The very being of things consists in 
their process of concrescence their being a 
growth into a new unity. We have no longer 
the materialist concept of an enduring stuff, whose 
apparent configurations lead us into an illusory 
belief in change and growth. Whitehead (like 
Bergson and Alexander) sees that growth and 
creative process must be taken as fundamental. 

And Whitehead, through his use of the con 
cepts of Periodicity and Rhythm, shows that the 
distinctions in what we call Mechanism and Life 
are distinctions not of categories of being, but of 
the character of the process. Where a process 
shows mere repetition and reproduction of its 
character, we have a mechanical type of order; 
where we have the increased sensitivity which 
brings about a continual re-creation of the char 
acter of the organism in response to new con 
ditions and possibilities in the environment, we 
have a " living " type of order. The originative 
urge towards this increase in sensitivity is the 
" mental pole "; and there is no level in the whole 
creative process at which we can confidently say 
that it is absent. 



276 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

So we have a renewal of the Platonic view of a 
kinship between natural, moral and aesthetic law; 
a relation between the creative order in nature and 
aesthetic beauty of form. 

There is a book waiting to be written by some 
one who is both a musician and a philosopher to 
show that the Greek conception of the " music 
of the spheres " was not mere mythology. We 
have the concept of periodic vibrations and 
rhythmic repetitions in nature; of Life as the 
emergence of a new form supervening upon a 
background of ordered repetition; the principle 
of " resonance n by which the period of one 
vibration is tuned to that of another so that a small 
expenditure of energy may achieve far-reaching 
results, as when the touch of a finger, in tune with 
its oscillations, releases a giant rocking stone. 
In all such principles, may we not be gradually 
uncovering a formal structure in things which in 
one case we formulate mathematically, in another 
reproduce and develop through significant sound 
in music ? 2 The relation between the formal 
element in things and the concrete things them 
selves may be analogous to the relation between 
the formal structure of a melody and its sensuous 
expression through a medium in such a way as to 

1 Introduction to Mathematics, pp. 170-171. 

2 Cf. the definition of Music as the art of creating significant 
forms in sound in Sir Henry Hadow s Music (H.U.L.), p. 19. 



CONCLUSION 277 

convey .depth of feeling and intellectual enjoy 
ment. 

If what we call " law " consists in the achieve 
ment and displaying of some ordered character 
throughout the flux of events, then progress in 
creative advance depends upon the continual 
achievement of deeper and subtler orders. And 
depth of order, in nature, in aesthetics, in ethics 
is a matter of the right combination of a back 
ground of massive simplicity with a foreground 
of intensity and delicacy of mutually adjusted 
contrasts. In creative advance each order is to 
be achieved and then transcended. Mere repeti 
tion and routine, and contentment with what has 
been means mechanism. Life depends on the 
continual re-creation which comes from increased 
sensitivity and from being awake to respond to 
finer and subtler possibilities. 

If we can hold that these possibilities are 
grounded in a permanent source of order, and 
their gradual achievement in the passage of nature 
is the immanence of that order in the world, we 
need not be troubled by the false antithesis of 
dualism between God and the world. The 
Divine Order is found both in the order of logic, 
which provides the necessary conditions for events 
to occur at all, and which " lies upon the universe 
as an iron necessity," 1 and in the aesthetic order, 
1 Science and the Modern World, p. 27. 



278 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

which " stands before it as a living ideal moulding 
the general flux in its broken progress towards 
finer, and subtler issues." 

The Consequent Nature of God is the measure 
of such order as has been achieved in the creative 
passage of nature. It is that order in present 
immediacy. This insistent note of " present 
immediacy " is the answer to those who would 
argue that a preoccupation with speculative meta 
physics must necessarily destroy interest in the 
vivid immediacy of life. For the conception of 
the Consequent Nature of God, and indeed of 
the concrescent actual entity, mean nothing if they 
do not point us to the present as that creative 
moment in the passage of nature which is indeed 
all that there is. 

But the present moment is all that there is 
because it holds within itself the impact of the 
whole past from which it arises; and it reaches 
forward to the unknown possibilities of the future. 
Hence it is holy ground. There can be no 
substitute for its precious uniqueness, or for the 
sensitivity which penetrates to the bottom of 
each new experience as it arises. Yet we have 
here not simply an Epicurean Carpe diem. For 
according to the Philosophy of Organism, each 
present experience is not simply a detached and 
passing event, but the Whole found in a new 
unity. 



CONCLUSION 276 

Mich hat nicht eine Mutter geboren. 
Tausend Mutter haben 
in den kranklichen Knaben 
die tausend Leben verloren, 
die sie ihm gaben. 1 

Each experience is the outcome of a feeling of the 
whole of the rest of its world. It is the many 
gathered up into a new unity. 

So if, in Whitehead s language, the individual 
concrescence arises out of its prehensions of the 
rest of its world, we can no longer hold to another 
old antithesis that between egoism and altruism. 
For if we think of ourselves as arising out of our 
relations with others, we finally come to think of 
our good as identified with theirs. 

Yet this is not the familiar metaphysic in which 
the individual becomes submerged and lost in the 
Whole. For here again the Philosophy of Organ 
ism saves itself by taking the ideas of growth and 
process seriously. Each individual concrescence 
is part of a whole process which is essentially a 
plunge into novelty. It is the outcome of. the 
past; but it also reaches forward into the pos 
sibilities of the future. It arises out of its feelings 
of the rest of its world; but it is itself a new con 
crescence, with its own unique quality and value. 
Hegelian Monism overlooked this private and 

1 Rainer Maria Rilke, Fruhe Qedichte. The quotation at 
the beginning of Chapter IX is also taken from this book. 



280 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

unique side of each actuality- (We may recall 
the quotation from William James On Some 
Hegelisms, which I have set at the beginning 
of Chapter IV.) It is this which the Philosophy 
of Organism is concerned to restore. And it is in 
the responsibility which comes from the unique 
value of the individual actuality, alone by itself, 
that we first find the necessity of religion. Hence 
the saying (so often quoted, and so often mis 
quoted) that " Religion is what the individual 
does with his own solitariness." 1 

Lastly, Whitehead, like all great philosophers, 
shows us the falsity of another famous antithesis. 
He shows us that there need be no final separation 
between the spirit of rationalism and of roman 
ticism. He teaches us the zest for living as more 
than philosophising; and the love of philosophy 
as an enrichment of life. Exact reasoning is 
to be prized, since it is in truth the " fittest *" ; 
yet it need never destroy the immediate enjoy 
ment of concrete experience. Rationality, in the 
broadest sense, we may call the power of discerning 
the order relevant to each experience. It is thus 
more than mere calculating, for it contains also 
the immediacy of aesthetic appreciation. 

We need to recover this balance, in view of the 
tendency on the one hand to a type of learnedness 
which stifles the vividness of living; and on the 
1 Religion in the Making, p. 16. 



CONCLUSION 28l 

other hand tp a depreciation of attempts at exact 
thinking. It is this sort of wisdom and balance 
which runs through Whitehead s books, and for 
which alone we should be grateful to him, whether 
or no we think that he has proved his case for 
speculative philosophy. We may certainly feel 
that if we are to have speculative philosophy, there 
are few whom we should equally trust to give it 
to us. Nor can it be denied that his own parti 
cular system, which he would be the last to claim 
as final, has nevertheless considerable application. 
For penetrating general ideas have been born from 
it, which illuminate the experience in which we 
seek to test them. 

But it is as a defence of the right kind of ration 
alism rather than for any particular metaphysical 
views that we would judge his work is likely to 
be of the most permanent significance. He would 
not claim to be giving a complete answer to the 
problems of metaphysics; but to be trying to 
raise the right sort of ulterior questions and to be 
suggesting a method by which they may be 
approached. 1 And by the way in which he does 
this, he renews our loyalty, instead of what might 
be our paralysing fear, in the face of our ignorance 
of the nature of things. He does not pander 
to our psychological craving for certainty in a 
baffling world, nor give us a " philosophy of noble 
1 Cf. Principles of Natural Knowledge, p. viii. 



282 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

despair. 1 But he strengthens our grounds for be 
lieving that there is a positive and constructive order 
in things ; and renews our hope that in quiet reason 
able love, working without haste and without rest, 
is the divine life of the world. 

So finally, he teaches us to hold our particular 
metaphysical view lightly, knowing that it is at 
best but a world-myth ; yet not to give way to the 
anti-intellectualism which refuses to allow that 
the philosophical quest is worth pursuing. 



INDEX OF PROPER NAMES 



ALEXANDER, S., 8, 70-72, 193, 

198,251,275 

Aquinas, St. Thomas, 7, 120 
Archer- Hind, R. D., 229 ., 240 . 
Aristotle, 7, 13, 30, 36 ., 46, 239 
Augustine, St., 103, 120, 174, 192 

Bacon, Francis, 28, 91 

Bentham, J., 33 

Bergson, H., 12, 55-57, 98, 99, 

143, 262, 275 
Berkeley, 40 
Bigg, C., 253 w., 254 n. 
Bradley, F. H., 42, 55-56, 59-60, 

80, 82 ., 89, 141, 143, 162, 164 
Braithwaite, R. B., 109 n. 
Broad, C. D., 16 
Burke, E., 9 
Burnet, J., 234 . 

Coleridge, S. T., 9 

The Ancient Mariner, 29 

Mill s Essay on, 33 
Cratylus, 105 
Croce, B., 55 

Descartes, 18, 53 ., 101 
Dewey, J., 43, 46, 65 ., 153 ., 

244 
Dicey, A. V., 21 n. 

Eckhart, Meister, 245 
Eddington, Sir A., 44 
Einstein, A., 209 ., 233 n. 
Emerson, R. W., 103 
Empedocles, 73 



283 



Field, G. C., 221 n. 
Foster, M. B., 81 n. 

Gosse, E., 35 . 

Haldane, J. S., 87 ., 91, 92 
Hegel, 67 

Hobhouse, L. T., 92 . 
Hocking, W. E., 272 
Hoffding, H., 264 
Hume, 15, 16, 46, 101, 108, 157, 
209, 247, 265 

Inge, W. R., 103 

James, William, 6, 24, 69, 191 w., 

280 

Jenghis Khan, 39 
Joachim, H. H., 34 
Jowett, B., 136 

Kant, 35, 42 sq., 55, 60, 69, 140 

209, 236 
Kelvin, Lord, 82 
Kepler, 22 
Keynes, J. M., 207 

Laguna, de, 202 n. 

Leibniz, 8, 89, 147 ., 175, 180-, 

181, 197, 199, 215, 258 . 
Lewis, C. I., 49-51 n. 
Lindsay, A. D., 167 . 
Lippmann, W., 64 
Locke, 77, 86, 99-101, 132, 135 ., 

162, 176, 187 
Lovejoy, R. O., 154-156, 177 n. 



i Spinoza, 199 

| Stebbing, L. Susan, i, 127-128 

! ., 209 

! Stone, C. G., 69, 250 

i Taylor, A. E., 37 ., 57 ., 71 ., 
196 ., Chapter VIII. passim, 
258 K. 

Tennant, F. R., 36 ., 243 ., 
249 . 

| Thornton, L., 255 n. 

i Timaeus, 225, 230 

! Toqueville, A. de, 21 . 

; Vaughan, H., 242 



284 WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 

Lowes,]. L., 42, 192, 220 
Lucretius, 265 

Marcus Aurelius, 65 

Mayor, J. B., 232 n. 

Mead, G. H., 95 n. 

Melville, H., 29 

Mill, J. S., 33 

Morgan, C. Lloyd, 90-91, 184 . 

Murphy, A. E., 153 n. 

Newton, 177 ., 227 

Odysseus, 12 
Origen, 253-254 

Paley, W., 268 

Pater, W., 65 

Philo Judaeus, 120 

Plato, 12, 13, 36 ., 46, Chapter 

V. passim^ 132 sq., Chapter 

VIII. passim 
Poincare*, H., 204 
Pope, A., 268 

Raleigh, Sir W., 68, 196 n. 

Ramsey, F. P., 61 ., 109 n. 

Rilke, R. M,, 242, 279 

Ross, W. D., 36 n. 

Russell, Lord, viii, 4 ., 34, 61, 

78,83-84, 111-113, 144, i68., 

169 ,, 172, 177 ., 187 ., 

191 ., 209 ., 233 ., 237 n. 

Santayana, G., 107, 138-139 
Shorey, P., 125, 221 ., 222 
Smith, J. A., 55 
Smith, N. Kemp, 50 ., 107 ., 

196 
Socrates, 105, 109 H., 117, 134, 

162, 239 
Spengler, O., 211 



Ward, J., 50 

Waverley, 84 

Webb, C. C. J., 240 . 

Whitehead, A. N.: mathematician 
and philosopher viii-ix; his 
view of modern philosophy, 
5 s q. ; and of speculative philo 
sophy, 9 sq.$ defence of 
imaginative thought, 21 jy.; 
method and terminology, 37 
J0.; his " Cartesianism," 42 sq.; 
rationalist and romantic, 67- 
68, 280-282.; his categorical 
scheme, 37, 69 sq. ; hisPlatonism, 
102 sq., 240-241, 256; aesthetic 
basis of his metaphy sic, 68, 141. 
265; his defence of natural 
theology, 244 sq.; interest in 
cosmology, and problem of 
types of order, 227, 233, 254 

Wittgenstein, L., 4, 52, 6 1, 169 ., 
243 

Woodger, J. H., 22 ., 92 ., 
184 n. 

Woodward, E. L., 40 

Wordsworth, W., 45, 68, 102, 
103, 263 



GENERAL INDEX 



ABSOLUTE, The, 56, 78, 162, 197 
Abstraction, 74-75, 83, 95, 97, 

126, 159, 169, 191 w., 206 
Abstractive hierarchies, 130-132 

sets, 204-206 
Accident, 26 

and attribute, 72 ., 77, 

248-249 

^Esthetic order, 47, 193, 217, 
236 sq., 260, 264 sq., 272, 
276, 277 
foundation of Philosophy of 

Organism, 68, 141, 265 
Alexandrian Fathers, 103, 120, 



, 229 s y- 

Analysis of factors in fact, 58-59, 

197, 203 

Analytic propositions, 61 
Antinomies, 60-6 1 
Appearance and Reality, 55, 80 
Appetition, 115 ., 128, 147, 175, 

215,257-258 
Arianism, 253-254 
Aristotelian view of knowledge, 
27 n. 

philosophy, 53 ., 77 

categories, 70 

forms, 86, 187 

adjectives, 109, 118 n. 

t>A?7, 73, 248 

Bifurcation of Nature, 153 sq. 
Biology, 22 ., 92 

Cambridge Platonists, 103 
Cartesian Philosophy, 8, 18, 24, 
44, 72 ., 100-101, 223 



Categorical Obligations, 70-71, 

145-146 
Categorical Scheme, conditions 

of, 15 sq. 
limits of, 30 sq. 
Whitehead s, 37-38, Chapter 

IV. passim 
Categories, metaphysical, 27 . 

See also Metaphysics 
Kantian, 48 sq. 
Whitehead s and Alexander s, 
69 sq. See also Existence 
and Explanation 
in Sophist, 136 
Causal efficacy, 1 50 sq. 
Causation, 142, 150-151, 213 
Cell-theory, 184-185, 214 
Christianity, 254 
Christian Platonism, 103, 254, 

260 

Christology, 254-255 . 
Coherence, ideal of, 17-19 
theory of truth, 170-171 
development towards. See 

Satisfaction 

Conceptual prehension, or realisa 
tion, 114, 128, 133, 136, 146, 
1 68, 216, 256, 262 n. 
Concrescence, 4 1, 90, 176, iSojy., 

195, 198, 275, 279 
Concretion, Principle of, 121, 199, 

252 

Congruence, 208, 233 n. 
Conic sections, 22 
Consciousness, 95, 115 //., 146, 

149, 165,215,257,262 
Constitution, real internal, 86, 
8 9> 97* 99 2I 4 



285 



286 WHITE HEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 



Continuity, qualitative, in, 

113 ., 187 n. 
Contrasts, 70 ., 217, 260, 265- 

267, 277 

Co-ordinate Division, 59, 98, 195 
Copernican hypothesis, 50 
Correspondence theory of truth, 

170-171 

Cosmic epochs, 172, 201, 21 1, 218 
Cosmological Argument, 250-251 
Cosmology, 47, 172, ., 227, 244, 

254, 

Creativity, 26, 72 sq., 116, 121, 
192, 199-200, 219, 222 sq.) | 
230, 234, 247 sq. I 

Critical Philosophy, 42-43, 47 

Decision, 41, 114, 119, 128, 192, 

197, 198, 236 
Dialectic, 36 n. 
Dogma, systems of, 32 
Dogmatism, 24-25 

flan vital, 1 2, 262 

Emergence, concept of, 251 

Enduring objects. See Objects. 

Entities, actual, 76, 79 sq.; 
decisions amid possibility, 
114, 200; "drops of feel 
ing," 80, 141; atomic, 176 
sq.; logical subjects of 
propositions, 162 
objectives for thought, 58 

Epicureanism, 64, 65, 278 

Epochal theory of time, 177-178, 
206, 225 . 

Error, Idealist theory of, 34 
result of symbolic reference, 

153 
Essence, notion of, 81 

realm of, 107, 136, 138-139 
real, 86 

of eternal objects, 130 
Eternal Objects. See Objects 
Ether, 78-79 

Ethical order, 47, 139, 236 sq.) 
249 it.) 277 



Events, 78 sq. t 88, 106, 151, 162, 

177 ., 183, 202-204 
Everlastingness, 235, 263 sq. 
Evil, problem of, 254, 268-270 
Existence, concept of, 83-84 

Categories of, 70, 161 
Experience, as constructive 

functioning, 48 
belongs to all actual 
entities, 80, 141, 266 
Whitehead s view com 
pared with Bradley s, 
80, 89-90, 141 
Experimentalism, 64-65 
Explanation, Categories of, 70, 98 
Extensive Abstraction, Method 

of, 203 sq. 
Extensive connection, 79, 179, 

1 80 n.) 201 sq. 

Extensive Continuum, 180 ., 
201, 207, 211, 213, 223 sq. 

Factors in fact, 58 

Fallacy of Misplaced Concrete- 
ness, 74 

Faust) 140 

Feeling, theory of, 87-88, Chapter 
VI. passim 

nature of actual entities, 18 1 
propositions lures for, 165 sq. 

Fitz Gerald contractions, 208 

Flux, 47, 104-105, 113, 174, 261, 
277-278 

Forms, 58, 75, 104, 131-132, 138- 
*39> 79> 186-187, 203, 220 

General ideas, 3, 21-23, 25, 64 
Givenness, 71, 85, 197, 230-231 
God, 26, 80, 86, 116 sq.) 149, 

199-201, 210, 219, 221-222, 

232 sq.) 238, 244, 248 sq.) 

270 sq.) 277-278 
Good, Idea of the, 123, 234 
GorgiaS) 237 
Greek Philosophy, 8, 14, 24, 72, 

i?5> 9 2 > *9 8 > 2 37 



GENERAL INDEX 



287 



Hamlet, 21 n., 166, 167 . 
Hegelian Idealism, 46, 74, 88-89, 

279 
Hybrid feelings, 148-149 

Ideas, Platonic, Chapter V. 

passim , 234 
Iliad, 77 
Immortality, objective, in ., 

128 n., 159, 197, 235, 261 sq. 
Incarnation, Doctrine of the, 

254-255 n. 

Induction, 28 ., 207 sq., 233 
Infinite, notion of the, 60, 253 n. 
Ingression, 41, 118, 130, 223, 225, 

2 35. 
Intensity, Category of Subjective, 

141 

International Congress of Philo 
sophy, Seventh, 5 
Sixth, 95 n., 125. 
Ionian cosmologists. See Pre- 
Socratics 

Judgment, theory of, 165 sq. 
Koivatvia, 126, 129, 136 

Laws of Nature, 76, 78, 86, 107, 

200, 210 sq., 277 
"Living" organisms, 216-217, 

2 75 
Location, denial of simple, 154, 

176-177 n. 
Logic, 14, 17, 61, 84, 277 

Idealist, 129, 164, 195 
Logos, as Discursive Reason, 27 ., 
Platonic, 46, 53 
in Christian Theology, 253- 
254 

Marius the Epicurean, 65 
"Material" bodies, 216 
Mathematics, viii, 21-22, 47, 60- 

63, 85, 163, 190, 227 
Measurement, 206, 208, 233 n. 
Mechanism, 92, 275 



Metaphysics, 7, 46, 137 
method of, 25 sq. 
and cosmology, 172 n., 211 
Metaphysics, Aristotle s, 36 n. 
Metaphysical propositions, 171- 

173, 200 

Methodology, 20 
Multiplicity, 70 n., 129, 195- 

196 n. 

Music, 112-113, 2 7*> 
Mysticism, 4, 44, 144, 177 ., 

244, 247 
Myth, 123, 222 

Neo-Platonism, 254 
New Testament, 267 
Nexus of actual entities, 70 ., 
79, i52., 158, 168-171, 182 sq., 
202,213,216 
Novs, intuitive of first principles, 

27 . 

Anaxagorean, 222 n. 
persuading avd-yKrj, 230 

Objects, and events, 1 08 sq., 128 

n., 162, 179 
kinds of, 109-110 
eternal 96, Chapter V. 
passim, 146-149, 161, 222, 
225, 234 sq., 2$6; sub 
jective and objective, 133 
sq. 

enduring, 142, 173, 186 sq. 
Objectification, 93, 127 n., 142, 
155, 159-160, 187, 188,215-216 
Obligations, Categorical, 70-71, 

145-146 

Occam s razor, 83 
Occasion, actual. See Entity. 
One and Many, 47, 72, 74, 89, 

279 

Ontological Principle, 8 1 , n^sq., 
118-119, 128 n., 186, 199, 206, 
210, 252 

Order, concept of, 125, 138-139, 
174, 190 sq., 217-219, 233, 
236, 259, 266 sq. 



288 



WHITEHEAD S PHILOSOPHY OF ORGANISM 



Order, types of, 117, 188, 199, 

21 1 jy., 221, 229, 255 
Organisation, problem of, 86, 92, 

1 86, 213-215, 250 
Organism, concept of, 69, 73, 96, 

175, 180-182, 228 
Philosophy of, as title, ix, 74; 
as speculative metaphysics, 
Chapter III. passim, 100- 
101, 140, 274; based on 
aesthetics, 68, 141; plural 
ist and monist, 72, 88-89, 

278 

Parmenides, 134 

Passage of Nature, 76-77, 174, 

203,223,277-278 
Perception, 94, 149 sq. 
Periodicity, in, 178, 240, 275, 

276 
Permanence, 47, 105, 113, 174, 

238, 261 
Pbadrus, 13 
Pbilebus, 226, 232 
Philosophy, as clarification of 

ideas, 4 
search for general ideas, 28 

sq. 

speculative, 10 sq. 
method of, 24 sq, 
and science, 42 sq. 
and contemporary life, 64 

sq.j 280-282 
Physics, 22 n., 25, 78, 92, 105, 

143, 178 n., 233 n. 
Platonic Tradition, 46, 53, 75, 

102 sq., 134, 256 

Pole, mental and physical, n, 
115 ., 146, 168, 218, 257- 
258 

Politicus, 233 . 
Potentiality, 73, 113, 119, 121, 

127, 1295?., 161, 199,248 
Pragmatism, 21 

Prehension, 41, 70 ., 87 sq., 115 
., 129, 140, 174*?. 



j Presentational Immediacy, 150 

Presiding occasion, 152, 215 

Pre-Socratics, 5, 227 

Principia Mathematica, viii, 60, 
84., 163, 172 n., 173 

Process, concept of, 77-78, 89, 
i 98, 134, 150, 176, 250, 274-275 
j Process and Reality, reviewer s 
j view of, i 

I scope and aim of 9, 

, editions, 17 

! Progress, idea of, 211-212, 269, 

| 277 

j Prophets, 13 

Prepositional functions, 84, 1 63 
Propositions, theory of, 160 sq. 

Quantum Theory, 112, 178 n. 
\ 
\ Rationalism, 9 sq., 27, 35, 67-68, 

! 280 

and religion, 246 sq. 
: Rationality, 239, 272, 280 
| Sentiment of, 5, 42, 54 

i of the real, 196, 230, 239 

| Realism, Critical, 81, 138 
j Reason, n sq., 54, 218-219, 239, 

Recognition, 108, in, 174, 200 
Relational essence of eternal 

objects, 130 
view of space and time, 203- 

206, 224-225 
thought as, 55-57 
Relations, 63, no 

internal and external, 96, 
i 109 n., 130 n., 176-177 

| of eternal objects, 129 sq. 

Relativism, Objective, 153 
: Relativity, 88, 109 ., 135, 151, 
| 208, 225 
Relevance, notion of, 95-96, 127, 

120., 147, 208 

Religion, 123-124, 243, 245 sq., 
270 sq., 280 



GENERAL INDEX 



Repetition, 108, 1 1 1/200, 275, 276 

Republic, 234, .274. . 

Resonance, 276 

Res vera, 72 

Reversion, Category of Con 
ceptual, 148 

Rhythms, 73, 111-113, 229, 240, 
275, 276 

Satisfaction of an actual entity, 

99, 181-182, 194, 226, 270 
Science, method of, 25 

and philosophy, 45-4?) 2I 
and Idealism, 43 sq. 
Sense-data, 152^. 
Simultaneity, concept of, 151- 

152 n. 
Societies of actual entities, 189, 

211 sq. 
Solipsism, 16 

Sophist, 88, 126, 129, 135 sq. 
Space, 57 n., 60-61, 177 ., 203, 

223, 233 ft. 

Space-Time, 57 ., 70,72, 209, 25 1 
Stoic Philosophy, 64, 67 
Subjective aim or form, 87, 90, 

95 sq., "4, H8, 160, 167 ., 

184, 198, 213 n. 
Subjective Harmony, Category of, 

213 n. 
Subjective Intensity, Category 

of, 141 
Subsistence, concept of, 81, 119, 

138 



289 



Substance, Cartesian, two kinds 

of, 1 8, 44 
Substance, concept of, 27, 71, 77, 

8 1 n., 199, 274 
Symbolic reference, 152 sq. 
Symbolism, 17, 45, 52, 60, 62, 

157-158 

Teleological Argument, 265 
Teleology, 90 sq. 
Testament of Beauty, i, 42, 44, 54 
Theology, 46, 121, 124, 242 sq. 
Timaus, 122, Chapter VIII. 

passim 
Time, 57 ., 60-6 1, 177 n., 203, 

225 n. 
Transmutation, Category of, 1 58, 

1 68 
Trinity, Doctrine of the, 252-254 

Ultimate, Category of the, 71, 

247 
irrationality, 26-27, 71, 230- 

231, 243 n., 249 n. 
Universal^ 57, 74, 75, 82, 106 sq., 
162, 203 

Vacuous actuality, 80, 82, 136 
Valuation, Conceptual, 158, 259- 

260 

Category of, 148 

Vector feelings, 94, 150, 153, 
181 



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